Stryker Orthopaedics is considering working with hospital groups internationally to create a small 3D printer that would turn out customized implants in hospitals, Gene Kulesha, senior director of platform technology engineering at the US firm, told people attending the Mfg4 conference yesterday in Hartford, CT.
Five to seven years from now, the partners envision that hospitals will house not only 3D printers but also dedicated design engineers, he said. Such “print engineers” would gather the diagnostic data from patients and surgeons, quickly design personalized implants, print them within six hours, sterilize them and deliver them to the surgeons.
“Right now, the first step is to have the implant ready in maybe a week’s time—for the second surgery,” Kulesha said.
Homer Stryker, an orthopedic surgeon and prolific inventor, founded the firm, which last year recorded sales of $9.9 billion, Kulesha said, noting that that figure hovered around $800 million when he joined the firm 20 years ago. “He would just crank out inventions left and right: bed frames, special heel inserts so people could walk on casts. He invented the cast cutter back in the 1940s.”
With nearly 5000 patents to its name, Stryker knows something about giving its engineers latitude.