Materialise is the leader in 3D printing software. Additionally, the firm has a 3D printing service bureau. By leveraging its learnings in manufacturing it can improve its software; while additions to software packages such as 3Matic and Magics can be validated at its own production locations. For years the firm has supported surgeons and medical device manufacturers with software for surgical guides. It has partnered with medical device manufacturers, facilitated surgical planning and printed parts for CMF and other surgeries. Today the firm takes another bold step towards medical 3D printing by acquiring Engimplan.
Materialise today acquired 75% of Engimplan, a Brazil-based medical device manufacturer that is a strong national player making innovative CMF and orthopedic devices with revenues of 6 million euros. Materialise will keep the Engimplan management team in place and continue with a strong focus on the Brazillian market. This is a huge boost for Brazil’s chances of becoming a medical device and 3D printing hub for the region and perhaps the wider world. Materialise will together with Engimplan manufacture 3D printed orthopedic and CMF implants, patient-specific and standard, in Brazil. Materialise has a huge lead over everyone else in surgical planning, translating DICOM and other files into 3D prints, the software chain for medical and printing in surgical guides. Meanwhile, Engimplan is in the, traditionally clubby, medical device industry which could set up Materialise for further local and global success in medical device. With 510K and other approvals on the rise for 3D printed products and with a proactive FDA open to engaging actively with firms to define the new regulatory landscape, this seems like a prescient move by Materialise. Medical device manufacturing itself in ortho will also rise through obesity, people living longer and more developing country people getting access to high-end orthopedic solutions. Other medical device firms, with Striker leading the pack, have invested heavily in 3D printing orthopedics and are developing new polymer and metal orthopedic solutions.
With titanium textures making for good bone adhesion and customization leading to patient-specific solutions that may give better patient outcomes it makes a lot of sense for Materialise to enter this market. To do so in Brazil is a ballsy move betting on the future growth, prosperity and technical sophistication of the South American nation of over 200 million. The local market should be promising for the immediate future. Prosperity would bring many more into the 3D printed prosthetic fold but if prosperity will lag then the middle and richer classes of Brazillian society could still bring many more patients to Engimplan and Materialise. If the team can then grow internationally this will be a great move indeed.
3DPrint.com was given the opportunity to speak with Brigitte de Vet, Vice President and General Manager of Materialise Medical in advance of this transaction. Brigitte was able to tell us that this is a “strategic investment,” where “the Materialise technology in 3D printing will lead to the local production of innovative medical devices in Brazil.”
“The focus will be on the Brazillian market where we could combine our expertise in this large important market with a strong local player for CMF and orthopedics.”
Brigitte felt that this investment was “complementary to existing partnerships with medical device companies, as they will do things in Brazil that they do not do with current partners.” A distinct advantage was that, “this transaction will use the power of 3D printing and the digital backbone to strengthen and leverage global process and product innovation locally.” Materialise, “through having 30 years in the market, the software backbone and certified solutions in this arena will be able to build on Engimplan’s considerable expertise.”
The investment will focus on “Standard implants such as spinal cages but also develop new innovations in patient-specific implants.” She sees that there is a real business case for 3D printed patient-specific implants.
“Depending on the indication there could be a patient-specific solution where there simply is not a standardized solution available. In other cases patients may spend less time in the operating theatre due to the patient-specific implant and this will save the patient, hospital and health system money making the business case for these implants.”
“Patient-specific implants also lead to better planning that is integrated with the software and patient scans which will lead to better procedures. Meanwhile a specific implant also means that the hospital has to have fewer implants in stock and the surgeons immediately have the correct implant at hand.”
This seems like a very wise and bold move from Materialise and places the company is an excellent position to manufacture innovative medical devices and instruments. Patient specific orthopedics are a growing very exciting market and Materialise has just put itself in the driving seat.
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