Prominent university makes laser sintered prosthetics
Sigma files provisional patent for metal 3D printing
Arcam and DiSanto to promote AM-made medical implants
The University of Colorado Denver - Anschutz Medical Campus is using metal laser sintering machines built by EOS to make prosthetics.
Richard Weir, PhD, a researcher in robotic technology for arm amputees, said the fabrica-tor will allow his research team to develop better components for prosthetic fingers, hands and arms. Weir would also like to cre-ate a prototyping centre as a resource for other university and VA researchers.
Weir’s lab had already been using a 3D plastic printer, but a metal prototyp-ing machine dramatically expands the horizons for
their prosthetic designs. Metal printing is still “a very nascent technology,” Weir said, estimating that around two dozen direct metal laser sintering machines built by EOS e-Manufacturing Solutions are being used in the United States, mostly for biomedical and aeronautical applications.
The machine uses a three-dimensional dig-ital image to methodically laser-sinter beads of metal powder into solid metal. Most components will be built overnight in the machine, which has a door that allows manufacturers to view the progress of each iterative design.
Arcam AB has signed a stra-tegic alliance agreement with DiSanto Technology to promote the use of medical parts made using Arcam’s electron beam melting (EBM) process, a form of additive manufacturing (AM).
DiSanto Technology Inc (DTI), a medical device contract manufacturer, will offer orthopedic and spinal implant technology, product application development and manufacturing of EBM-based implants and other compo-nents.
“We are very pleased to be the manufacturing partner of Arcam,” said Ron Dunn, CEO of DiSanto Technology Ltd. “We are excited about incorporating Arcam’s pro-prietary EBM technology into our manufacturing capability offering to our existing and new customers,”
By using the combined capabilities of both compa-nies, the alliance can help accelerate market adoption and penetration of commer-cially manufactured, finished EBM-based implants and components. The partner-ship will use Arcam’s EBM technology along with DTI’s expertise in engineering and producing finished compo-nents.
As part of the agreement, Arcam will support the expansion, equipping and operation of DTI’s manufac-turing capability of finished parts made with Arcam’s EBM technology. The strate-gic alliance agreement calls for DTI to initially purchase two EBM systems to be deliv-ered and installed at DTI.
“This partnership with DTI
is an important strategic step for Arcam,” said Magnus René, CEO of Arcam. “Our EBM technology has been used for manufacturing of implants in Europe since 2007, and in the US since 2010. To date approximately 30 000 orthopedic implants manufactured with EBM tech-nology have been implanted worldwide.”
Through this alliance with DTI, Arcam will now also be able to offer existing and new customers contract manufacturing capabilities and help them commercialise new product applications. “This will, in turn, give our customers the opportunity to more quickly and more efficiently develop products and get them to the mar-ket,” René added.
The two companies recently exhibited together at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) 2013 Annual Meeting (Chicago, 20-22 March), and will again at the Orthopedic Manufacturing Technology Conference (OMTEC) exhibi-tion (Chicago, 12-13 June).
DiSanto technology is an
expert in spinal implant
Sigma has filed a patent designed to allow process qualification and part certifi-cation for 3D printing of criti-cal metal parts.
“Metal parts for critical applications in aerospace, defence and biomedical parts require very strict quality control,” said Dr Vivek Dave, executive vice president of Sigma Labs. “Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is a great way to make metal parts, yet one problem the industry cur-rently faces is how to assure the quality. Our newly filed patent application discloses original technology that will allow the use of real-time, on-machine measurements to rapidly qualify additive manufacturing processes and certify parts made using
these methods.” According to Mark Cola
president and CEO of Sigma Labs, this patent application is a key part of the com-pany’s commercialisation strategy on how to enable metal parts additive manu-facturing and 3D printing worldwide. “The ability to offer rapid qualification and certification capability will favourably impact our current and future customers as they bring new products to mar-ket,” he said. “We invested significant internal research and development resources to help secure this IP and we plan to successfully offer it to clients worldwide to help them achieve their additive manufacturing goals in aero-space, defence, biomedical and beyond.”