It’s not too often that you see a dental laboratory begin creating spinal implants, but that’s just what is about to happen at Attenborough Dental in Nottingham, England. Attenborough Dental is has been working within the industry for over 100 years. Founded in 1913, they serve dentists across the UK and Ireland with implants, orthodontics, acrylic prosthetics, crowns, and more. They are one of Europe’s largest dental labs with over 20 offices worldwide.
According to managing director Ed Attenborough, the company plans to transfer their 3D printing technology, which they have been using for dental work, to the field of orthopedics. They will initially use the printers and scanners to create custom spinal implants, and later consider using them to create knees and hips for implantation.
Attenborough hopes to improve the the field of orthopedics by creating customized implants. Currently spinal implants are generic, meaning one basic size fits all. Because of this, patients are made to fit with the implant, rather than the implant being made to fit with them. What Attenborough plans on doing is first 3D scanning the patients themselves, to develop an accurate model of the damaged area. They will then take that scan, work an implant into it, turn it into a 3D model, and print a custom made implant for the individual. Attenborough expects to have 24 patients fitted with one of the 3D printed implants within the next 18 months. The plans are in place and they feel that they have the perfect setup for success.
“We have a 3D patient scanning centre on site which has an accuracy of up to 20 microns,” explained Attenborough. “We also have a 3D printing and manufacturing centre on site, accurate to five to 16 microns working with materials such as titanium and ceramics such as zirconia. We have a very unique set-up here in Nottingham with all the technology needed for the proposal under one roof, which allows us to develop an integrated product and new treatment protocols. Nottingham has one of the largest teaching hospitals in the country at its heart as well as a world-leading academic centre in 3D printing at the University of Nottingham.”
As 3D scanning and printing technology improves, the market for such implants will expand at a nearly exponential rate. Those companies entering the space now, are going to have the easiest time acquiring market share. Attenborough Dental has realized this, and expects success. Discuss this story at the 3D printed implant forum thread at 3DPB.com.
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