May 24, 2014

A UK dental laboratory is set to transfer 3D printing technology used in the dental field to orthopaedics. The company is going to use 3D scanning and 3D printing to create spinal implants, and they hope later the process could be expanded to knees or hips.

Formed in 1913, Nottingham based Attenborough Dental is one of Europe's largest dental laboratories and operates in more than 20 countries worldwide. Recently the company has secured £146,000 funding from the TSB Strategy Board for a knowledge-transfer partnership with the University of Nottingham and the Queen's Medical Centre (QMC).

The funding has enabled the company to employ a post graduate research assistant to help to apply digital technologies to orthopaedics.

Ed Attenborough, Managing Director

Managing director of Attenborough Dental Ed Attenborough said: "At the moment, nearly all of orthopaedics is generic. Patients are made to fit the artificial implant, via surgery, instead of the implant being made to fit the patient. In many scenarios, the implant will need replacing after several years or a second operation will be necessary."

The lab plans to 3D scan the patient and then produce a custom-made spinal implant for the patient using 3D printing. Attenborough expects 24 patients to be fitted with one of the custom-made devices by the end of next year.

Attenborough said: "We have a 3D patient scanning centre on site which has an accuracy of up to 20 microns.

"We also have a 3D printing and manufacturing centre on site, accurate to five to 16 microns working with materials such as titanium and ceramics such as zirconia.

"We have a very unique set-up here in Nottingham with all the technology needed for the proposal under one roof, which allows us to develop an integrated product and new treatment protocols.

"Nottingham has one of the largest teaching hospitals in the country at its heart as well as a world-leading academic centre in 3D printing at the University of Nottingham."

Artificial bone made using a 3D printer, created by Japanese researchers

The immense possibilities of 3D printing are now revolutionizing the medical world. Last year, 3D printed orthopedic implants were successfully fitted in Peking's University Third Hospital in Beijing. In August 2013, Japanese doctors at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine have successfully transplanted 3D printed bones into four patients with cervical spine (cervical) disc herniation. Following the transplants, symptoms such as gait disturbance and hand numbness improved. The cost of making such artificial bones is only several thousand yen per bone(1000 yen = 10 US dollars). It is believed that 3D printing technology is particularly advantageous for printing replication of bones with complex 3D shape.


via Nottingham Post

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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