Dec 2, 2015 | By Benedict

A collaborative research project between Xtant Medical Holdings, Inc. and student engineers from Montana State University has yielded a custom 3D printer able to produce resorbable bone grafts for reconstructive procedures. Researchers and developers from Bacterin International, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Xtant, were joined by the team of students to develop the unique 3D printer, which is able to prototype a range of reconstructive implants.

The collaborative research project follows a 3D printing research trend of companies working with educational institutions to pool their resources and reach a mutually beneficial outcome. Bacterin provided a grant for the development work, whilst Montana State University provided research expertise, with each party contributing invaluable components to the project. Whilst 3D printing has been used to produce many kinds of medical implants, the production of resorbable devices—ones which can be biologically accepted by the human body and which can develop organically—are rarer, and require more advanced technology than that used in other kinds of 3D printer. These special 3D printed implants are resorbable because they use actual human bone from the patient as their base material. The implants are relatively uncommon, because only a finite amount of human bone can be harvested from a patient before the procedure becomes detrimental to the body.

Bacterin is one of many medical device companies to employ 3D printing technology for customized implants, including those which the body is able to biologically assimilate. Additive technology can be used to produce implants of a precise shape and size, with a complex internal structure which could not be achieved using other production techniques. “We strongly believe that 3D printing has a place in the creation of innovative, regenerative bio-scaffolds,” said Daniel Cox, Product Development Specialist.

Bacterin, which also acts as a tissue bank, emphasized the potential utility of the newly developed 3D printer built with the help of Montana State University. Cox also hinted that the successful research would signal further forays into additive manufacturing research, in order to develop the most powerful medical technology possible. “The production of a custom 3D printer capable of printing bone constructs for the medical needs of patients supports our interest in further investigating the possibilities in this space,” he added.

The medical device company was generous with its praise for the student engineers who helped bring the project to fruition. “It was a pleasure to work with Montana State University on this project, lending support to our local community and strengthening our relationship with an incredible engineering institution,” Cox gushed.

The production of the custom 3D printer is one of several recent 3D printing projects undertaken by various departments of Montana State University. The collaboration with Bacterin took place in the university’s Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. One can only hope that the medical 3D printer fares better than the latest 3D printing project from the university’s Department of Space Science and Engineering, whose 3D printed PrintSat satellite met an unfortunate end in early November.



Posted in 3D Printer



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