Mar 23, 2016 | By Benedict
Amedica Corporation has become the first company to create medical silicon nitride ceramics using a 3D printing process called robotic deposition, or robocasting. The 3D printed products have been shown to possess similar properties to traditionally manufactured alternatives.
Several medical device manufacturers are currently harnessing the power of 3D printing to produce high-quality implants for the spine, hip, and other body parts. In addition to their time-saving capabilities, 3D printers are capable of inducing a number of desirable properties in such medical implants. These properties can include complex internal structures, customized elements, and a patient-specific size and shape based on medical imaging data. Today’s announcement from Amedica sees medical 3D printing being used with a new type of material, an advancement that could prove advantageous to both doctors and patients.
As a method of implant manufacturing, 3D printing can offer both advantages and disadvantages, but the choice of printing material can be every bit as important as the manufacturing process itself. Amedica, an established medical device company and new addition to the medical 3D printing world, specializes in producing silicon nitride ceramics, which can be used as a biomaterial platform. Such platforms can also be made from metal alloys, polymers, and other ceramics, but Amedica claims that silicon nitride possesses superior qualities, making it the ideal choice for a range of implants and other medical devices.
Many advanced medical implants are designed to encourage the growth of organic bone material around the implant, so that the partially organic, partially synthetic system becomes safely joined together. Unfortunately, since implants bring foreign substances into the body, undesirable bacterial growth can also occur during this transitional process. Silicon nitride helps to reduce the growth of biofilms between an implant and surrounding bone by attracting proteins, cells, and nutrients, all of which encourage bone growth. A rough surface texture also contributes to the bone growth, while antibacterial properties of the material help to reduce chances of infection.
In its mission to perfect the use of silicon nitride medical devices, Amedica has turned to the 3D printing technique of robotic deposition, or robocasting, to precisely control the porosity of its medical devices and to speed up the manufacturing process for small quantities. Robocasting is a freeform fabrication technique for dense ceramics and composites, based on the layered deposition of highly colloidal slurries. Using the robocasting technique, a complete 3D printed device can be made in less than 24 hours.
"This innovation speaks to the unique art and science related to our manufacturing strength," said Dr. Sonny Bal, Amedica Chairman and CEO. "3D printing of a complex ceramic material opens future doors, especially in terms of cost advantages, and addressing a variety of OEM partner needs. Custom additive manufacturing is a modern advancement, and we are proud to lead the way in 3D printing of our silicon nitride formulation, with its advantages in bone fusion, antibacterial behavior, and superior strength.”
The important technological step will allow Amedica to commercialize its 3D printed silicon nitride implants and offer them in a range of porosity levels to suit specific clinical needs. Robocasting will allow the company to create anatomically relevant silicon nitride implants in a range of shapes and sizes, as well as bone scaffolds suited for cellular differentiation and neovascularization. The 3D printed medical devices have already been put through their paces, with electron microscopy scans revealing similar theoretical density and microstructure attributes when compared to traditionally manufactured silicon nitride fusion devices currently being used.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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Bobby Cohoat wrote at 4/22/2016 8:16:06 PM: