4WEB Medical is in the business of making trusses, and 3D printing them. The word truss may throw you—just as it did me too, at first—because it brings to mind supports and frameworks for infrastructure or buildings usually, and perhaps is even a term you first became familiar with while constructing or remodeling your home. In this context though, truss technology applies to the medical profession, as 4WEB is responsible for creating a new architecture in implants such as those for the spine, providing comprehensive surgical solutions to a range of surgeons. They also produce foot and ankle osteotomy implants and are renowned as the world’s first FDA-approved provider of such 3D printed medical devices.
As we’ve followed their progress from new implant designs to celebrating numerous other global milestones of success in research and development and new procedures, many others have of course begun manufacturing 3D printed implants as well. These are all devices that help people and have the potential to increase the quality of life their lives greatly; however, it’s important that 4WEB preserve their specific intellectual property as well. In keeping with that, they’ve just made a very important announcement at the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery (ISASS) annual meeting being held in Las Vegas from April 6-8: the United States Patent and Trademark Office has just issued US Patent No. 9271845 B2, titled ‘Programmable Implants and Methods of Using Programmable Implants to Repair Bone Structures.’
In this patent, the issued claims span ‘truss and strut-based lattice implant designs that transfer truss and strut-based lattice implant designs that transfer bone specific biologic strain to adjacent cellular material when loaded.’ These are the foundation of 4WEB’s Programmable Truss Implant Technology. And while it’s a milestone, it’s not their first, as the company founded in 2008 and headquartered in Frisco, Texas, already has 20 issued and pending US and international patents.
“We are very pleased to have this patent issued,” said Jessee Hunt, President and CEO of 4WEB. “With much of the industry trying to catch up to 4WEB as it relates to 3D printed implants, it is important for us to be able to protect not only the design but also the stimulative nature of our programmable truss implants.”
With over 10,000 of their 3D printed spinal implants currently in use around the world, 4WEB is also credited with over 100 custom truss implant procedures being performed globally in the past five years, producing implants that are patient-specific for procedures such as:
- Spinal fusions
- Distal tibial osteotomies
- Humeral and femoral segmental bone defects
- Ankle revisions
Truss implant technology is based on innovative engineering that allows for unique design, contact mechanics, and adjacent material reaction.
“In various embodiments, an implant for interfacing with a bone structure includes a web structure, including a space truss, configured to interface with human bone tissue, including cells, matrix, and ionic milieu,” states one definition in the patent. “The space truss includes two or more planar truss units having a plurality of struts joined at nodes.”
Working on the basic concept that load causes strain, with truss implant technology the idea is that some of that stress will be transferred to nearby cellular materials. Load distribution reduces stress risers and subsidence-related complications, and the open architecture provides a sturdy scaffolding for support, allowing for up to 75% of the implant to be filled with graft material to maximize bone incorporation.
As 4WEB continues their very important work, including ongoing studies regarding truss implants and osteogenesis markers, they see the patent as offering protection for their pursuits, and benefiting patients who are able to experience a better and faster healing process thanks to the devices.
“Inherent in any patient specific implant is the need to modify and optimize the design based on constraints presented by the patient. This patent establishes protection around the design variables required to modify these advanced implants to contain strain ranges that function synergistically with the patient,” said John Peloza, M.D., orthopedic spine surgeon in Dallas, Texas. “4WEB’s Programmable Truss Implant Technology provides a next generation design pathway for the company’s proven interbody devices currently being used for anterior, posterior lumbar and cervical procedures.”
The latest patent is just further representation of decades of research and effort that led to the discovery of the 4WEB, a unique geometry which is able to serve as a foundation for creating extremely strong but light web-structures. 4WEB Medical’s portfolio offers implant solutions for surgeons specializing in neurology and orthopedics, and they are also currently using their truss technology to develop implant designs for the knee, hip, and trauma procedures. Visit 4WEB Medical to find out more about their ever-expanding platform. What are your thoughts on this latest patent? Discuss in the 4WEB Medical 3D Printing Truss System Patent forum over at 3DPB.com.