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’re looking at MT Ortho srl, a medical device company using additive manufacturing to create titanium implants. Upcoming articles in the AM Focus will span innovative startups to giant multinational corporations, all of which are using AM in exciting ways. At the end of the month all the best content will be featured in 3dpbm’s Medical AM Focus 2020 eBook.
Healthcare is changing, and MT Ortho srl, a medical device company based in Italy, is changing with the times. According to the Sicilian company, medical devices used in fields like orthopedic surgery, orthopedics oncology and neurosurgery are no longer suited to conventional production methods. That’s why MT Ortho is using additive manufacturing to create a range of custom-made titanium implants that can be fabricated and delivered in very short timeframes.
Founded 15 years ago, MT Ortho creates medical devices and treatment solutions for public and private hospitals, dividing its products into five distinct categories: prosthetic, spinal, traumatological, biological and arthroscopic (joint interiors). Its titanium products are made using electron-beam melting (EBM) technology, specifically GE Additive’s Arcam Q10 system, a printer designed for the cost-efficient production of orthopedic implants. EBM is an additive process in which an electron beam is used to fuse raw metal powder or wire.
With two printers installed in house and 10 employees directly involved with additive activities, MT Ortho does not outsource any of its AM activity. Instead, it uses those two Q10 systems to print implants made from either Ti6Al4V-ELI (a high-strength, low-weight titanium alloy with “Extra Low Interstitials” that provide improved ductility and better fracture toughness) or Ti6Al4V, a more widely used titanium alloy with similar characteristics.
EBM has enabled MT Ortho to do exciting things in its field. According to Simone di Bella, a Product Engineer at the firm, the company uses EBM on all its products, since the technology provides design flexibility “without any limitation” and also the ability to create complex surface structures that promote bone in-growth and patient recovery.
MT Ortho’s 3D printed products are made for a wide variety of conditions. The company’s catalog includes pelvic implants, cranial implants, foot implants, shoulder implants and more, with each product able to be made on demand for specific patient cases. And although Di Bella says the company must work hard to manage costs and develop its AM processes in new ways, its current offerings are performing extremely well.