Welcome to this month’s AM Focus: Medical. For the entire month of February, we are going to zoom in on the many possibilities that additive manufacturing is offering today to medical companies. In this article, we are taking a close look at Osseus Fusion Systems, a medical device company that uses additive manufacturing for titanium bodily implants. Upcoming articles in the AM Focus will cover the medical segment from all angles, featuring highly innovative startups and giant multinational corporations. Stay tuned, at the end of the month all the best content will be featured in 3dpbm’s Medical AM Focus 2020 eBook.
Founded by industry veterans, Dallas-based Osseus Fusion Systems is a medical device company focused on developing advanced technology products for minimally invasive spine surgery. Using advanced materials and leading-edge technologies like additive manufacturing, Osseus creates modern, inventive devices that help solve anatomic challenges and push patient outcome boundaries.
“Additive manufacturing allows our engineers the freedom to design geometries and structures impossible with traditional manufacturing techniques,” explains John Bohenick, an Osseus engineer. “In our practice, there is great benefit in optimizing the negative space within our implants. Porosity throughout the implant encourages cellular activity, increasing bone growth onto and into the implant. (Bone ongrowth and bone ingrowth.) Also, reducing the volume of titanium increases the surgeon’s ability to evaluate the fusion post-op by reducing the artifact in imaging.”
Osseus uses additive manufacturing in several ways. At the company’s Dallas headquarters, the company creates resin prototypes using two in-house Formlabs SLA 3D printers, which help the engineers “iterate designs more quickly” and “provide a better product with a reduced time to market.” Osseus then moves on to an outsourced DMLS service for its stainless steel instrument prototypes and titanium implants. But the medical device company, whose employees regularly experiment with other additive processes in product development, sees opportunities for medical AM innovation in technologies beyond laser sintering.
“The potential for additive manufacturing in the medical space eclipses the market offerings to date,” Bohenick says. “ABS and PLA additive manufacturing allows surgeons to 3D print patients’ bones to aid in conceptualizing their surgical approaches. New titanium implants and stainless steel instruments are currently being developed to provide more procedural options and greater fusion for trauma and orthopedics. Additively manufactured polymers have the potential to achieve material properties of organic tissues including bone and tendons, and additively manufactured organic tissues will follow. The opportunities for AM technologies in medical are all very exciting.”
In its own work, Osseus has leveraged AM to overcome specific obstacles in the production of titanium implants, particularly regarding fusion. “Within orthopedics, additive manufacturing has great value for improving implant fusion rates,” Bohenick explains. “In comparison to the commonly used PEEK implants, 3D printed titanium implants promote greater fusion onto and into the implant.” This is down to the ability of 3D printers to create complex structures with porous internal geometries. In its development of additively manufactured titanium spinal interbody implants, Osseus has successfully created implants with a porosity of around 80%. “That may not sound like a big deal, but it’s a big deal to our surgeons and their patients,” Bohenick says.
Overall, Osseus is embracing the potential of additive manufacturing to improve medical devices in revolutionary ways. And although Bohenick notes the “stringent review process” employed by the FDA, the Texas company does not see those guidelines as a huge hurdle to overcome. Osseus has just announced the Alpha Launch of Aries-TS, its 3D printed transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion device.