The medical additive manufacturing sector – which is starting now to include some areas of bioprinting – is today one of the largest adopters of 3D printing technologies for the production of consumer-targeted, end-use items, including prosthetics and orthotics, implants, devices and physical models.

In this month’s AM Focus on medical additive manufacturing, we are going to hear from some of the large companies and innovative startups that have taken the possibilities offered by AM in various medical fields to new heights and built this sector into what can already be described as a multi-billion dollar opportunity.

The use of 3D printing technologies extends well beyond 3D printed implants. Surgical guides and pre-surgical models are widespread, so much so that they can, in a way, be compared to the broad adoption of AM for prototyping and tooling in the industrial manufacturing arena.

Leading AM hardware manufacturers, such as 3D Systems, EnvisionTEC, EOS and SLM Solutions, along with leading global service providers like Oerlikon, Jabil and Materialise, are investing heavily to develop both medical and dental AM applications. Medical product powerhouses like StrykerDePuy SynthesZimmer Biomet (these two merged in 2015), and Smith & Nephew, are conducting R&D with AM for a range of innovative devices. Stryker was among the earliest adopters along with medium size international firm Lima Corporate.

The list of orthopedic contract manufacturers offering AM production services today is growing rapidly, with 3dpbm’s Index listing nearly 50 manufacturers of varying sizes. Some of these companies have been utilizing AM in a significant manner for more than a decade and are beginning to look beyond just the design and production of existing implant types in titanium using additive manufacturing.

While the benefits of AM technologies for personalized medicine and more efficient surgical practices are well documented, several hurdles still exist that are limiting a more widespread adoption of these key technologies in hospitals and medical practices. Several of these hurdles are inherent to AM technologies and related material availability, however, the biggest challenges result from a general lack of awareness and skepticism, resulting in a slow pace of adoption.

Today, significant strides are being takenmainly in the private segmenttoward the development of advanced polymers, metals and ceramics fit for implantation in humans. The private dental segment is going through a full-size boom in the adoption of AM technologies and processes. With this month’s AM Focus we hone in on the latest advancements and take a look at the upcoming opportunities for medical AM.

  • Bond3D enables the printing of personalized PEEK spinal cages. Developed in partnership with Invibio Biomaterial Solutions.

    Bond3D enables the printing of personalized PEEK spinal cages

    Bond3D, a company with patented technology that enables the production of functional parts from high-performance polymers, has recently made significant progress in maturing its technology to print high-strength PEEK parts – with comparable properties to PEEK components that are injection molded or machined. The company has now partnered with Invibio Biomaterial…

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  • Fraunhofer’s FingerKit project prints personalized finger joints

    In the future, the FingerKit project, developed by the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Additive Manufacturing Technologies (IAPT), the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems (IKTS), the Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Experimental Medicine (ITEM), the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Medicine…

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  • LithaBone HA 480 released by Lithoz

    Lithoz, a global leader in ceramic additive manufacturing, through intensive cooperation with users of their previous bone substitute materials for ceramic 3D printing, has developed the new LithaBone HA 480 material. The material was developed to make the use of 3D printing for bone replacements more effective and more economically…

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  • Precision ADM enters partnership with Tecomet. To expand development and production opportunities in the area of additive manufacturing.

    Precision ADM enters partnership with Tecomet

    Precision ADM, a leader in additive and subtractive manufacturing for the medical, aerospace, and industrial sectors, has entered into a strategic partnership with Tecomet, a leader in the design, development, and manufacture of orthopedic, robotic-assisted, and minimally invasive surgical products, to expand development and production opportunities in the area of…

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  • Desktop Metal receives $9 million order from German automaker

    Desktop Metal, a leader in mass production additive manufacturing solutions, has received a $9 million order from a ‘major German automaker’ for binder jet additive manufacturing systems used for the mass production of powertrain components. This is the second order from the same automaker in less than 12 months –…

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  • Digital Smile Design (DSD) officially partners with Formlabs Dental

    Digital Smile Design (DSD), a company using 3D printing technology to enable advanced dentistry, and Formlabs Dental, a division of Formlabs, a 3D printing technology developer and manufacturer, have entered a new collaboration – underlining DSD’s continued commitment to joining forces with key organizations who share the same values, a…

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  • Wimba 3D prints orthotic and prosthetic medical devices for dogs. Using an HP Multi Jet Fusion 5210 from ZiggZagg.

    Wimba 3D prints orthotic and prosthetic medical devices for dogs

    Krakow-based start-up, Wimba, is on track to revolutionize dog care, through the use of an HP Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 5210 to manufacture individual orthotic and prosthetic medical devices for dogs. Founded in October 2022, Wimba aims to innovate in the field of individual orthopedic supplies by creating 3D products…

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  • Smiling at scale

    Clear aligners continue to increase in demand and 3D printing has proven to be an ideal technology to produce these mass-customized devices. Silicon Valley-based Carbon has made clear aligners one of its top priorities for expansion in the European market by offering the most seamless solution to produce them at…

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  • Stratasys makes strategic investment in Axial3D

    Med-tech startup Axial3D has announced the closing of a $15 million investment round led by a strategic investment of $10 million from Stratasys Ltd. (NASDAQ: SSYS), a leader in polymer 3D printing solutions. This is Stratasys’ first investment in Axial3D. The two companies also will be providing a joint offering…

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  • Carbon’s bioabsorbable elastomer shows biocompatibility. Samples have been designated as non-toxic with a range of full absorption times.

    Carbon’s bioabsorbable elastomer shows biocompatibility in vivo

    Carbon’s developmental bioabsorbable elastomer platform has demonstrated biocompatibility in vivo, with all samples being designated as non-toxic and exhibiting tunable times for full absorption. This latest milestone indicates the elastomer’s potential future development in biomedical lattice applications such as soft tissue repair, wound dressings, and nerve conduits. The Silicon-Valley based…

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