Tech Note: Confluent adds Advanced Knitting Capability for Heart Valves and Structural Heart Devices

Confluent recently added advanced capabilities for 3-D and near net shape textiles with a Raschel Double Needle Bar knitter. This investment will support advances in textiles in our target transcatheter Structural Heart and Endovascular markets.

Transcatheter procedures have seen widespread adoption for the minimally invasive treatment of vascular and structural heart diseases, including Aortic or Mitral valve replacement and repair (TAVR & TMVR), Left Atrial Appendage Occlusion (LAAO), Aortic Aneurysm (TAA or AAA), and others. These procedures offer patients an alternate to surgical interventions, with shortened hospital stays and reduced recovery periods.

Within many of these devices, medical textiles form critical components to performance and long term stability. Woven and Knit implantable fabrics are commonly used for:

  • Blood Impermeable Barriers
  • Scaffolds for tissue ingrowth and anchoring
  • Sewing rings
  • Seals for Paravalvular Leakage (PVL)

Confluent’s investment in the Double Needle Bar knitting capability enables new solutions utilizing 3D textile structures, especially in transcatheter Mitral & Aortic valves. Solutions enabled with this technology include:

  • Seamless Knit Tubes
    • Near-net shape skirts for heart valves with tailorable thickness, pore size and elasticity.
  • Textured Knit PVL Textiles
    • Compressible textiles with a textured surface to adapt to an irregular annulus, and compress for minimally invasive delivery.
  • Spacer Fabrics
    • Compressible 3-D knits with two face textiles and a highly porous core, for conformance to the annulus and PVL sealing.

Warp knit structures are created by forming yarns into a series of interlocking, aided by knitting needles to continuously wrap and shed the loops. The term “Double Needle Bar” literally means the knitting machine has two independent sets of needles, each capable of independently producing a flat warp knit fabric. With both bars operating in parallel, this machine is capable of creating seamless tubes, terry-knit (read as “fuzzy”) fabrics, or compressible sandwich structures (knit spacer fabrics) linked together by a spacer yarn. Furthermore, with digital pattern control, properties of the knit may be locally tailored to optimize performance in different areas of a device.

Each transcatheter device has its own unique set of performance requirements and design constraints. By engaging in the design process early on, Textiles Engineers can help identify the right structure and manufacturing processes to deliver innovating solutions and successful devices.

Reach out to Confluent’s dedicated Technical Services Engineering team to see how our textiles expertise can aid your design. Email [email protected] for more information.