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Titanium and 3D Printing: The Future of Medical Implants? -Med-Tech Innovation

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Harald Kissel, R & D Manager at Sandvik Additive Manufacturing, shares insights into how titanium powder and AM are revolutionizing the manufacture of medical implants.

In 1891, Professor Themistocles Glck performed the first hip arthroplasty using a ball-and-socket joint made of ivory. Since then, medical implant technology has advanced, and recent developments in laminated molding (AM) and material technology have made custom 3D printed implants possible.

The adult human body has 206 bones, all of which have the important function of providing structural support and protecting our vital organs. Because bone has important work, damaged bone can have a serious impact on a patient’s health and quality of life.

Limited treatment

If the bone is severely damaged and heals and does not function properly, a medical implant should be inserted. This is especially true for serious accidents that destroy areas of complex treatment, such as the skull and spine.

Multiple medical appointments are typically required to create an implant that meets the needs of the patient. Waiting for an implant this long can be incredibly uncomfortable when damaged bone can cause pain in the patient, reduce mobility and affect lifestyle.

It may seem like a long wait to the patient, but in reality the design process has been speeded up to relieve the patient more quickly, but this is a suboptimal implant that is not tailored to their body Bring. In the case of skull damage, this may also mean that the patient is wearing a mesh implant. It is weak and may be inaccurate.

Disruptive technology

Fortunately, AM and titanium powders have made it possible to produce medical implants for measurement that are biocompatible and seamlessly fit to the body. Advances in 3D printing have even made it possible to make carbon copies using our own skull anatomical data.

Titanium has excellent properties because it withstands corrosion while exhibiting strength, light weight, and biocompatibility. AM with titanium powder allows you to quickly create complex, custom-made implant designs with shapes not possible with other manufacturing technologies.

Accurate placement of metal powder makes it possible to manufacture lightweight structures that reduce material waste. AM is considered a disruptive technology in the medical field and provides patients with life-changing solutions.

Custom designs are created using computed tomography (CT) scans. This is an imaging technique that uses X-ray measurements taken from different angles to generate tomographic images of the body. This technique is welcomed as a way to look inside the body without surgery, surpassing other medical implant design methods.

Sandvik manufactures its own Osprey titanium powder at its powder factory in Sandviken, Sweden, and received ISO 13485: 2016 medical certification in the summer of 2020. The powder is currently approved for use in the manufacture of additives for medical applications.

Breakthrough research

A fully automated manufacturing process at the Sandviks factory guarantees reliable titanium powder quality. In-house metallurgical capabilities allow Sandvik to develop alloys, research alloys, and tailor materials to their intended use.

Sandvik is participating in an innovative research project in the medical 3D printing sector with the Swiss M4M Center in Switzerland, a public-private partnership initiated by the Swiss government. The project aims to build and certify a complete end-to-end production line for medical applications such as implants.

This will advance medical 3D printing and enable the design and manufacture of bespoke implants at the forefront of technology in a fast and cost-effective manner. Sandvik offers its key expertise in facilitating the initiative. The joint venture aims to revolutionize medical devices and benefit the lives of thousands of people.

Ivory is no longer used as a medical implant material, but since then the options available to patients have been limited. Fortunately, 3D-printed implants are becoming a viable option for patients with life-changing injuries. The development of titanium powder and AM has enabled custom implants to quickly provide superior implant designs for patients with bone damage.

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