Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Linde & 3D Medlab Partner to Optimize Metal 3D Printed Implants

ST Medical Devices

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Linde and 3D Medlab have embarked on a collaboration that could prove to be quite powerful in the development of orthopedic devices. Focusing on the creation of improved, complex lattices for implants, Linde and 3D Medlab will be working together to optimize atmospheric solutions during the fabrication of such structures. While Linde serves as a global leader in engineering and industrial gases, 3D Medlab too is a substantial leader within medical 3D printing, and more specifically for cardiovascular and orthopedic applications.

Screen shot from Linde video “ADDvance® O2 precision.”

Orthopedics and bone regeneration are historically an area of medicine fraught with challenge. Trying to imitate human body parts is an extremely complex process, not to mention creating the proper materials for implants and building suitable structures for patient-specific care.

Structures like lattices must be stable, possess strong, required mechanical properties, and most of all, be able to sustain growth of cells. In working together, Linde and 3D Medlab aimed to improve the printing chamber atmosphere to be “optimal and reproducible,” as stated in the recent press release sent to 3Dprint.com. The alloy focused on during experiments was titanium alloy, Ti-6AI-4V.

While researchers are performing amazing feats in labs worldwide, an enormous focus is (not surprisingly) is placed on the technology and technique involved in 3D printing; however, other details—like atmospheric gases—must be monitored and adjusted appropriately. Fumes and impurities can cause defects in parts. For example, even the smallest difference in oxygen levels can affect metals like titanium and aluminum, breaking down mechanical and chemical properties of critical 3D printed structures. Residue left behind due to fumes can also force users to spend more time in post-processing activities like cleaning.

Linde developed a helium/argon gas specifically for the atmospheric trial, meant to offer a “smoother and cleaner process.” Combined with the helium/argon gas, ADDvance O2 precision allows for optimized mixtures of chemicals in the printing chamber, as well as more accurate control over oxygen and humidity.

The two companies actually began working together via ADDvance powder cabinet. And while the current project focuses on building better lattice structures with Ti-6AI-4V, Linde and 3D Medlab plan to begin experimenting with nickel titanium for further research and development of next-gen stents.

“Full regulatory compliance is a fundamental cornerstone in our engineering and design process and our customers trust us to ensure all proper measures and controls are in place,” said Gaël Volpi, CEO, 3D Medlab.

Linde has continued to engage in dynamic collaborations, realizing the important role gas plays within AM processes. Meanwhile, researchers continue to develop new ways to overcome the challenges of tissue engineering and the creation of implants for bone regeneration, experimenting with new materials and innovative structures.

[Source / Images: Linde]

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