Topology Optimization in Medical Implants: Where are we now?

Last month we took a look at generative design in consumer products. We spoke to experts from CAD companies and manufacturers, and we learned that while there are instances of generative design in day-to-day products, they are still a way off from true mainstream adoption.

We learned that the biggest customers for generative design software are the manufacturers that require high-value, small production run, highly customized parts, such as aerospace companies and those involved in the medical implant industry.

So, to follow on the theme of last month’s article, we decided to speak to industry experts about the current state of generative design in the medical implant sector.


Medical implants, such as bone replacements, are the very definition of products that require a high level of customization. Every person is distinctly different, and so there is no one-size-fits-all solution where implants are concerned.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that biomechanical engineering companies have been early adopters of 3D printing technology. In fact, just recently the first recipient of a 3D printed titanium hip bone celebrated the 10th anniversary of the procedure—and the patient is reportedly still doing very well indeed. The surgeon who performed the procedure, Dr. Guido Grappiolo, has personally implanted over 600 3D-printed implants since that first procedure. Globally, over 10,000 patients have benefitted from implanted 3D-printed hip bone implants. That is a strong testament to the technology’s effectiveness.

But a lot has changed in those 10 years in terms of CAD and CAE simulation. Nowadays we have generative design and topology optimization, which can not only reduce the weight of these implants, but can also more closely mimic the trabecular structures found within bone.

So let’s once more ask the same question that we have been asking in this series of articles:

Generative design and topology optimization in medical implants: where are we now?

By Phillip Keane |

Image Credit: Autodesk


About Peter Coffaro 658 Articles
A growth-driven and strategic executive, Peter Coffaro commands more than 20 years of progressive management success within the orthopedic industry. Recognized by and the World Journal of Orthopedics as one of the top medical sales influencers in the industry; he has 10 years of combined sales management experience and has held positions as a Director, General Manager, Distributor and Vice President. Peter has worked for some of the top orthopedic companies in the world - Zimmer, DePuy and Stryker. He is also the founder of OrthoFeed: a popular blog that covers digital orthopedic news and emerging medical technologies. Peter is a three-time Hall of Fame award winner at Johnson and Johnson and has an extensive background in organizational development, business development, sales management, digital marketing and professional education. Peter holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Northern Illinois University.

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