At IMTS 2018 this week metal 3D printing provider Optomec, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, released the LENS 860 Hybrid Controlled Atmosphere (CA) System which is capable of working with reactive metals like magnesium.
Tipped to be the first of its kind in the industry, the LENS 860 has already found valuable applications in the medical industry. With early access to the system, a team of researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) have started developing 3D printed implants containing dissolving magnesium components.
Custom-made medical devices and personalized medicine
Patient-specific medical implants are a key development in the application of 3D printing for medicine. In many cases, 3D printing devices are applied to rare injuries to help improve patient comfort.They are also in the spinal device department and maxillofacial surgery.
The design freedom allowed by additive manufacturing provides practitioners with new ways to improve the way the body heals and interacts with implants.Lattice structures are particularly known for their ability to promote bone growth by supporting implants.
The UNL research works at the next stage of the implant’s purpose. Once the implant helps the broken bone grow back together, a second operation is usually needed to remove it.By creating a gradually dissolved implant, the researchers hope to overcome the risks associated with further surgery and help the body heal in a more natural way.
Dissolving medical implants
The challenge in making a dissolving implant is sustaining its strength for long enough to complete the task at hand. With the Lens Hybrid CA System, Dr. Sealy and the UNL team can combine LENS metal deposition with successive surface treatments that control the degradation of the implant’s magnesium content.
Additive manufacturing in the mainstream
Optomec LENS systems can be added to existing CNC platforms, and is specially suited to metal deposition on to pre-shaped substrates, i.e. curved or ridged components.