Our AM Focus Medical zooms in on the many possibilities that additive manufacturing is offering today to medical companies. In this episode, we are taking a closer look at the latest Medtronic additive manufacturing activities. Upcoming episodes will include many different types of players in this segment, ranging from highly innovative startups to giant multinational corporations. At the end of the month, all the best content will be featured in 3dpbm’s Medical AM Focus 2020 eBook.
With over $30 billion in revenues in 2018, Medtronic began as a medical supply repair shop in the US in 1949, their first commercial product was a battery-powered, wearable pacemaker. From then on they have focussed on technology as a means of improving treatment. Today there is a focus on using that technology to improve treatment and management of chronic conditions specifically – Medtronic claims that “every three seconds, another life is improved by a Medtronic product or therapy”. In 2014, Medtronic bought Irish-headquartered Covidien to further expand the scope. Globally the company now employs over 91,000 people in over 160 countries.
Medtronic moved into Ireland in 1999 and now operates five facilities – two manufacturing sites in Galway, a manufacturing site in Westmeath and two office sites in Dublin. Their Galway sites employ over 2000 people and manufacture respiratory monitoring devices.
In 2019 Medtronic launched a platform for additive manufacturing of complex titanium spinal implant:
the ARTiC-L Spinal System, which incorporates a honeycomb structure to encourage osseointegration of the surrounding bone.
The new platform, titled TiONIC Technology, is an additive manufacturing technique developed to enhance surface textures using a differentiated laser method. This enables the production of implants with rough three-dimensional surface structures which imitate natural trabecular bone morphology, increasing osteoconductivity and promote bone in-growth (osseointegration).
The first implant to be manufactured using the TiONIC process, the ARTiC-LTM spinal system, is a titanium implant designed for use in transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion spinal surgery. As well as encouraging osseointegration of the surrounding bone, the honeycomb structure reportedly provides improved mechanical load distribution across the implant.