Jan 3, 2017 | By Julia
Researchers from the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) have partnered with UK-based additive manufacturing company 3T RPD to develop a highly innovative 3D printed bone implant.
Spearheaded by NUI Galway’s Biomechanics Research Centre, the sophisticated surface architecture of the orthopaedic implant – comprised of hundreds of tiny titanium claws – grants improved fixation and in-growth, ultimately leading to an increased implant lifetime as compared to traditional bone implants.
Despite being a marvel of modern science, orthopaedic implants, at least in their current stage, have some serious limitations. Inadequate fixation to the original bone, both short- and long-term, is one such concern, since a poorly fixated implant can lead to the loosening, and ultimately failure of the implant.
Findings by NUI Galway researchers suggest that surface coatings currently being used for bone implants – either porous tantalum or plasma sprayed coatings – may be to blame. These surface coatings generally rely on friction between the implant and bone as the means of achieving primary fixation, which in many cases is not enough to secure long-term functioning. Better fixation in the immediate or primary stages of the implant would lead to a more effective long-term bone in-growth, and essentially a longer lifespan for the implant.
The NUI Galway team approached 3T RPD for engineering a solution by means of 3D printing. Together, they developed OsteoAnchor technology, a potentially revolutionary surface architecture for bone implants featuring hundreds of tiny claws.