Medical Implants are used as artificial substitutes to help the body with therapeutic, cosmetic or functional purposes, whether that be permanent or temporary. With implant designs becoming more complex, and miniature, manufacturers have had to step up and work on ways to improve the small parts manufacturing processes.
Although the implant industry is working hard to grow and develop new designs there is still no “perfect” device that can replace damaged bones, which is why it is so important for manufacturers to open up opportunities for doctors and inventors to manufacture such innovative products.
How Technology Is Advancing
Doctors and patients rely heavily on custom-made designs, it is then up to the manufacturers to take these designs and turn them into implants. Custom-made implants have been rapidly rising as for many patients the standard implants are often an insufficient fit.
Custom designs can be costly as they are made by using cobalt alloys, or titanium which are difficult to machine into complicated shapes. Recently, medical manufacturers have been adopting the idea of using a more additive approach by using direct metal laser sintering, and electron beam melting.
This means that manufacturers can produce advanced versions of implants, and implement a quicker turnaround time. The demand for alternatives to metal-based implants are growing rapidly and manufacturers are working more and more on advancing these alternatives every day, the advantages of additive manufacturing include:
- Customization: Customized implants cut out a lot of the stress for the patient and surgeon when getting a new implant/prosthesis fitted.
- Lowers Costs: The 3D-scan-to-part technology speeds up the process, meaning less time spent in the hospital which can reduce your hospital fees. With an efficient product, you may also find that less follow-up treatment is required which can also lower your medical bills.
- Quick Turnaround: With the advancement of 3D printing the turnaround time from the patient to the finished item is shortened, which means the patient will receive their implant much sooner.
- Complex Designs: Additive technology allows a more accurate cutting results, when fitting the implant to the patient.
To be able to fit the implant correctly, molds are used on the patient, then these molds are used to create their custom-made implants. If you were to have a standard implant fitted, the patient might need to undergo surgery, where their bones would be reshaped so the standard implant can fit. Depending on the design traditional methods and additive manufacturing can be combined and used together to create a better solution.
It is important to keep technology moving forward within the small parts manufacturing industry, and companies like Microfabrica do just that. A lot of time and money goes into the research and science behind every implant and prosthesis, to make it less stressful and painful for the patient. The medical field relies heavily on manufacturers to deliver the best results, so to have such a manufacturing option is vital to innovation.