Chinese company INTAMSYS is known for its 3D printers’ abilities to print with tough, functional, high-performance materials and, in the case of the FUNMAT PRO HT, high-temperature materials. Now INTAMSYS has signed a new partnership to work with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) specifically on high-temperature 3D printing applications in the field of orthopedic surgery.
INTAMSYS has lent its 3D printing technology to the orthopedic field before, as its PEEK material in particular is strong, stiff and durable, making it ideal for applications like braces. The new INTAMSYS and UCSF team, which will develop medical applications for 3D printing, will be led by EDGE Labs, a research division within the UCSF orthopedic surgery department, and guided by musculoskeletal researchers Aenor Sawyer, MD, Alexis Dang, MD, and Alan Dang, MD.
“We are very pleased to work with UCSF’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery to advance PEEK applications in medicine, as well as promoting health care cost savings in the field of orthopaedics,” said Charles Han, Chief Executive Officer of INTAMSYS. “Collaborating with surgeons to deliver the best possible patient outcomes is what drives our company.”
The UCSF Department of Orthopedic Surgery provides patient care, conducts clinical, basic science and translational research, and trains the next generation of global leaders in orthopedic surgery. This year, the department was nationally ranked by US News and World Report in 15 adult specialties and nine pediatric specialties, and the university is currently number one in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding in orthopedic surgery.
The potential applications for 3D printing in the orthopedic field are numerous, from braces to implants, surgical guides to scaffolds. Those applications have still been limited, however, by the lack of access to high-temperature materials that can provide the kind of strength, durability and biocompatibility necessary for medical devices. The collaboration between INTAMSYS and UCSF will focus in particular on materials like PEEK, which has all of those characteristics and can be 3D printed by the FUNMAT PRO HT.
“This level of industrial grade printing has not been available at this price point,” said Alexis Dang. “We are interested in being able to prototype customized implants using high-temperature materials such as PEEK.”
The FUNMAT PRO HT also offers an open materials system, meaning that the researchers will have a lot of freedom in terms of experimentation with different materials, PEEK and otherwise. INTAMSYS plans to develop additional high-performance 3D printers in the future as well, building on its expertise and experience to make research and development like that with UCSF more easily accessible.
A wide range of people with a wide range of conditions will potentially be impacted by this research, including spinal conditions like scoliosis and joint conditions like arthritis. Using materials like PEEK, the collaborators will be able to 3D print carefully customized, patient-specific implants and braces that can relieve these traditionally difficult-to-treat afflictions. Until recently, 3D printers capable of printing with high-temperature, high-performance materials like PEEK were typically too expensive to be accessible to most people, including university research programs. But INTAMSYS’ 3D printers are not only effective, they’re affordable, opening up new possibilities in medical 3D printing and more around the world.
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