Tapping new dimensions: the promise of 3-D printing

fcc0875a-04ff-4228-b588-8e9312fac664-largeNeurosurgeons have longed for a lumbar cage that is light enough to limit the load on a patient’s spine but also fuses well with surrounding lumbar vertebrae.

Conventional lumbar cages are made of titanium or polyether ether ketone, known as PEEK, which can put a heavy load on the spine. Although some implants have porous material added to their surfaces to help with fusion, bone doesn’t grow through PEEK or solid titanium.

Rather than look for a new material, engineers at Stryker Corp. decided to fundamentally change how the device is manufactured. The Kalamazoo, Mich.-based devicemaker concluded that 3-D-printing could yield a significantly more porous titanium lumbar cage. The product could be lighter and better imitate the porous nature of bone, encouraging spinal fusion.

Physicians have increasingly looked to 3-D printing for unique implants and surgical models, and some manufacturers are now using the method to mass produce medical devices and even drugs that are more precise, customizable and biocompatible than conventionally produced products.

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About Peter Coffaro 1091 Articles
A growth-driven and strategic executive, Peter Coffaro commands more than 20 years of progressive management success within the medical device industry. As a District Sales Manager for Stryker Orthopaedics, Peter was responsible for managing and directing a regional sales force to achieve sales and profit goals within the Rocky Mountain region. Previously, he was the Director of Sales & Marketing for Amp Orthopedics. In this role, Peter was responsible for planning, developing, and leading all sales and marketing initiatives. Peter is a former orthopedic distributor in the Pacific Northwest. He has also worked with DePuy Orthopaedics as well as Zimmer, and held positions in sales, sales training, and sales management. Peter has an extensive background in organizational development, business development, sales management, negotiating and P&L management. Peter holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Northern Illinois University.

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