3D printers will make better implants

A robotic lawnmower keeping the grass neat and tidy outside a modern industrial building in Carrigtwohill, near Cork in Ireland, is a good indication that something whizzy may be going on inside. And so it proves. The airy production hall contains row after row of 3d printers, each the size of a large fridge-freezer. The machines are humming away as they steadily make orthopaedic implants, such as replacement hip and knee joints. Even though several hundred employees’ cars are parked outside, the hall is almost deserted. Every so often a team appears, a bit like a Formula One pit crew, to unload a machine, service it and set it running again to make another batch of implants.

It is not unusual in modern, highly automated plants to find the workforce distributed like this, with most of them in the surrounding offices engaged in engineering tasks, logistics, sales and so on, rather than on the factory floor. But this two-year-old factory, owned by Stryker, an American medical-technology company, differs from conventional manufacturing in another way as well. It is an example of how 3d printing, which a decade ago was seen by manufacturers as suitable only for making one-off prototypes, is quickly entering the world of mass production. For commercial reasons, Stryker keeps some of the details secret. But the factory, the largest 3d-printing centre of its type in the world, works around the clock and is said to be capable of producing “hundreds of thousands” of implants a year.

By CARRIGTWOHILL | The Economist

Image Credit: Alexander Glandien


About Peter Coffaro 506 Articles
Peter Coffaro is a growth-driven and strategic executive with over 25 years of progressive management success in the medical device industry. With a proven track record and recognized expertise, Peter has established himself as one of the top influencers in medical sales, as acknowledged by prestigious publications such as the World Journal of Orthopedics, Exponential Healthtech, and MedReps.com. Throughout his career, Peter has accumulated 10 years of combined sales management experience, excelling in various roles including Director, General Manager, Distributor, and Vice President. He has worked for industry-leading orthopedic companies such as Zimmer, DePuy, and Stryker, solidifying his deep knowledge and network within the field. Peter’s passion for innovation and emerging technologies led him to found OrthoFeed, an award-winning blog covering digital orthopedic news and emerging medical technologies. Through this platform, he stays at the forefront of the industry and contributes to the dissemination of valuable insights. Peter is a three-time Hall of Fame award winner at Johnson and Johnson, demonstrating his exceptional contributions and impact on the organization. His expertise extends to areas such as organizational development, business development, sales management, digital marketing, and professional education. Peter earned a B.S. degree in Biology and Chemistry from Northern Illinois University, further complementing his comprehensive understanding of the medical field. With his wealth of experience, strategic mindset, and dedication to advancing healthcare, Peter Coffaro is a valuable asset and leader in the medical device industry.

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