A coalition of Quebec public investors launched a 3D anatomical reconstruction laboratory, dubbed LARA 3D. This unique infrastructure that gives Québec leading-edge equipment and advanced expertise for the manufacture of patient-specific implantable prostheses thanks to the use of 3D imaging, modelling and manufacturing technologies. The investors, Investissement Québec and Laval University, have invested over $8 million in the laboratory.
The partners exemplify exceptional collaboration between an applied industrial research centre, Investissement Québec – CRIQ, and a university hospital centre, the CHU de Québec–Université Laval, with the participation of SOVAR, an organization dedicated to the emergence, development and deployment of responsible technological and social innovations stemming from cutting-edge research.
LARA extends private-sector involvement
The entire additive manufacturing sector in Québec, with its companies specializing in modelling, powder production and 3D printing, will benefit from LARA 3D’s equipment and expertise and will be able to participate in advancing knowledge and techniques. Alkom Digital (orthopaedic screw manufacturing) and AP&C (production of metal powders for 3D printing) are already partnering in the implantable mandibular plate project.
At the core of a new hub of Québec expertise in medical 3D printing, LARA 3D will make it possible to design and produce other orthopaedic implants in partnership with the private sector, which will foster the creation of very high-quality specialized jobs.
Innovative products to benefit patients
The first innovation to emerge from LARA 3D is an implantable mandibular reconstruction plate for people with oral cancer affecting the jawbone. 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, makes it possible to solve the conformity problems encountered with industrial prostheses, which are standardized for a typical patient and therefore never perfectly adapted to individuals.
An implant can now be custom-designed based on internal imaging of the patient to match the unique contours of the bone to be repaired. It is manufactured from biocompatible metals using 3D printing by powder bed fusion with a laser or electron beam. LARA 3D also has specialized equipment that can be used to finish products, ensure their quality and traceability, and clean and sterilize them before they are delivered to the medical team.
The ISO 13485 certification process is under way to ensure that the development and manufacturing of specific prostheses meets the strictest quality requirements for the production of medical devices. At the same time, work is continuing in anticipation of applying for a licence from Health Canada, with the aim of being the first Canadian manufacturer to have approval of a 3D-printed implantable medical device.
The use of additive manufacturing for the production of orthopedic prostheses will raise the quality of care in Québec. The time spent in surgery, and therefore the associated costs, will decrease. In addition, since the implant is a better fit and more comfortable, patients will recover faster.