3D printing is becoming progressively rooted in the medical industry, offering a long list of opportunities not only for innovation but allowing medical professionals to seek their true goals: improving the quality of and sometimes even saving the lives of their patients.
We follow numerous stories regarding the miracle of 3D printed devices and implants, especially, as they allow for so many new, effective, and affordable solutions with streamlined procedures for use–and the key factor, which is customization. With digital design and 3D printing combined, products can be fabricated for patients to meet their needs exactly, casting off the previous traditional–and very challenging– one-size-fits all mode.
To achieve superior results in actually making 3D printed implants, superior software and hardware is required, obviously. Although it may be surprising we have not seen Autodesk’s name often crop up in the medical arena, many patients are already benefiting from their generative design software, Autodesk Within Medical. Six hundred of them, in fact.
Meant to optimize 3D printing of implants as well as offering a complex but highly effective means for success in terms of integration with bone, Autodesk Within Medical is premised on micro-lattice porous structures promoting both osseointegration and blood vessel development that assists in the healing process.
“Within Medical uses various pore size configurations and rough lattice surfaces to help the porous implant integrate properly with the bone,” said Mark Davis, senior director of design research at Autodesk. “Within Medical designs are also optimised for specific 3D printing processes – such as direct metal laser sintering and electron beam melting – that allow for highly accurate manufacturing.”
While Autodesk has been famous not only of course for the creation of the highly ubiquitous AutoCAD software but also for a wide range of products meant to suit everyone from architects and automotive designers to filmmakers, this is a new venture, occurring shortly after they released the product specific to designers and engineers in July.
Medical professionals now have an incredible tool at their fingertips, as was recently demonstrated in their case study regarding a patient who had a cranial flap implant inserted.
Using the Within Medical implant structure, Autodesk collaborated with 22 other entities from seven European countries to create an alternative to the titanium implant, which while revolutionary in itself has also been responsible for challenges due to inflexibility, temperature issues, and resulting discomfort in patients.
“Autodesk Within’s role in the Custom-IMD project was to design a cranial flap in PEEK plastic material with a complex structure that promotes osseointegration while also allowing the implant to be patient-specific, taking into account the dimensions and local stresses specific to the patient’s skull,” reports Autodesk from the case study. “This individualisation of treatment achievable rapidly and economically through the use of Autodesk Within’s software and Laser sintering contrasts with the costly and lengthy manufacturing times of the typical mass produced titanium implant used in cranioplasty.”
The new tool offers:
- Porous random latticing
- Solid interfacing
- Rough lattice surfaces
- Variable lattice density
- Conformal lattices
“Within Medical has contributed enormously to changing the way in which we design and manufacture implants. It is a tool with which both custom made and standardised implants can be designed and developed in a much more biological and intelligent way,” said Daniel Fiz, CEO of Novax DMA, a company specialising in the R&D and production of innovative medical technologies. “As both a surgeon and a designer, I believe this is the most important tool I have ever used, enabling us to make anatomic designs that would be impossible with other software.”
Other applications for the software are in that of repairing the skull, replacing hips, lumbar vertebrae, and performing facial reconstruction. With customization being central, 3D prints can be made as light, strong, and flexible as required depending on the patient and their specific medical needs.
Have you or anyone you know benefited from a 3D printed implant? How do you think the Autodesk tool will contribute to the medical industry? Discuss in the New ‘Autodesk Within Medical’ forum over at 3DPB.com.