Orthopedic Implants

The medical sector is today the largest adopters of 3D printing technologies for the production of consumer-targeted items, including prosthetics and implants. 3D printed orthopedic implants – especially knee and hip, but also spinal and CMF – are among the clearest example of digitally, additively mass produced final parts. And they are also among the first products that could be fully mass customized.

The history of additive manufacturing for orthopedic implants dates back over a decade, with earliest estimates for patient-specific implants being manufactured via AM around 2007. In 2010, an early adopter of electron beam based powder bed fusion technology from Arcam received one the very first FDA approvals for an orthopedic implant made via additive manufacturing.

Since these and other pivotal early achievements, the orthopedic implant industry has been somewhat quietly revolutionized by additive manufacturing. Over the past two years, the penetration rate for additive production of industry standard sized implants has been expanding rapidly towards a future where a majority of implants are produced additively. This expansion is happening in numerous implant areas including spinal, hip, knee, and other types of implants (where annual procedures are also growing).

Case studies for more standardized implants made additively have begun to further fuel the drive towards enabling more widespread use of true patient-specific devices. In this area, additive manufacturing represents the only true path to economic viability and production feasibility for implants designed and shaped to a specific patient with unique trauma, degenerative disease, or birth defects. Indeed, additive manufacturing will be a key piece of the holy grail of orthopedic (and other medical) care, in which physical solutions are tailored to the exact needs of an individual patient.

As a global opportunity within the broader AM market, orthopedic implants is growing to expand into new areas. The low hanging fruit that has powered the industry thus far remains in standardized implants fabricated in widely accepted alloys such as titanium. True patient-specific devices using these technologies and materials appear to be an inevitable growth extension where lower volumes and higher potential values per device exist.

Meanwhile, new developments in the additive fabrication of more advanced implants, including biodegradable and lightweight reinforced polymers, present cutting edge, green field growth scenarios in an already booming ‘additive orthopedic’ market.

  • Health Canada Mandibular implant

    The medical 3D printing industry marked an exciting milestone in Canada this week: Health Canada (a government department tasked with national health policies) has approved a 3D printed medical implant made by LARA 3D in Quebec City. The 3D printed device, a patient-specific mandibular plate, is the first made by…

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  • Racehorses metal implant

    Clinique de Grosbois, a veterinary clinic outside of Paris, France, specializes in treating racehorses that have been injured in the sport of racing. Among the most common injuries they treat are neck fractures and vertebral fractures caused by falls. And while in many cases the horses can be treated using…

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  • PrinterPrezz, Inc., a polymer and metal 3D printing service provider specializing in medical devices, recently signed a lease to a new all-encompassing facility, adding to the current HQ buildings in Fremont, California. This acquisition doubles their existing Bay Area Innovation Center workspace, increasing their total floor plan to approximately 30,000…

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  • Bioprinting company T&R Biofab and B Braun, a major healthcare solutions provider, held a joint presentation to launch T&R’s new 3D printed PCL Craniofacial bone implants products. The event, hosted by B Braun Korea was held at the Dragon City Hotel in Seoul. During the event, T&R Biofab outlined its…

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  • Stryker, a major adopter of AM for implants production is establishing a new medical R&D Lab in Queensland, Australia that builds on existing partnerships with hospitals, researchers, universities and local governments to drive the transformation of research into viable, commercially available precision medical device technology. With a research grant from…

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  • Incredible AM (aka 3D Incredible) has been one of the pioneers in India for metal 3D printing with a state-of-the-art AM plant located in Pune. The company has now reported that it has produced over 600 3D printed implants and medical devices, making it one of the largest and most…

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  • Medical device company MANTIZ has acquired an Eplus3D EP-M260 metallic 3D printer to additively manufacture cages in titanium for use in implant surgery. The entire process of shaping the company’s proprietary PANTHER spinal implants is now carried out internally by MANTIZ. The large print bed size of EP-M260 can be…

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  • When Eva de Goede, the three-time Olympic medalist field hockey player of the Dutch national team, fractured her wrist just two months before the start of the 2021 European Championship, it was a race against the clock to recover in time. A special custom-made 3D printed brace to support her…

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  • BellaSeno GmbH, an ISO 13485-certified MedTech company developing absorbable scaffolds using additive manufacturing technologies, established a novel, leading-edge additive manufacturing facility for medical implants supported by the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology IZI, Leipzig, Germany. It is one of the first GMP-compliant manufacturing facilities worldwide to include innovative…

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  • Materials manufacturer Covestro and orthopedic service provider GeBioM, based in Münster, Germany, are expanding their cooperation in the field of orthopedic footwear. In addition to producing lasts and trial shoes, they now support orthopedic shoemakers in the production of custom insoles using 3D printing. A new Addigy FPU 79A thermoplastic…

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