3D printed bone implants could revolutionise medical industry

The NHS turned 70 last week, which is also around the average age people require joint replacements; could additive manufacturing represent the medical industry’s future?

Each year, the NHS uses and replaces hundreds of thousands of hip, knee and spinal implants, with the average life of these implants just 15 years.

With the recent £20bn pledge from the government to boost the NHS, the UK should be looking at other ways the health service could save money.

3D printed metal implants could last longer than regular implants, be more durable and potentially save the medical industry money it so desperately needs.

Ahead of him receiving the prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering’s Silver Medal, The Manufacturer sat down with Chris Sutcliffe, Professor at the University of Liverpool, to talk about his 20-year career in the additive manufacturing of orthopedic implants and just how “additive manufacturing will revolutionise the whole orthopedic implant industry”, as he says.

Sutcliffe, who also works as an R&D director for Renishaw, explained his research work with US implant giant Stryker Orthopaedics – a US-based company leading in the medtech industry, with global sales $12.4bn.

He said: “All 3D printing relies on the simplification of a 3D problem to a 2D one, this simplification is the key to creating really complex 3D structures by decomposing the single 3D problem to a sequence of 2D ones.”

He explained that the implants developed are made with a 3D porous surface, which – to the human eye – resembles the structure of bone, adding: “Our implants don’t need screws or adhesives and both the initial fixation straight after implantation and the long term stability are fantastic.”

Why are they different?

The bone is a living material and it remodels itself in the presence of stress, this is why our skeletons are efficient structures with material distributed only where it is needed.

Sutcliffe said: “If you implant a stiff strong material, as in the case of a standard implant, loads [forces] are distributed to the implant and the surrounding bone will remodel itself leading to loosening of the implant.”

This initial loosening leads to a wearing of the implant and further loosening which will eventually result in failure.

Sutcliffe explained the difference between traditional and AM implants: “The 3D printed implant’s surface results in a smooth load transfer between the device and the skeleton, because the 3D porous surface becomes filled with living bone.

By Maddy White | The Manufacturer

Image Credit: Stryker

READ MORE

About Peter Coffaro 493 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.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.