UK-based metal AM company Renishaw revealed today it has been working in partnership with the University Dental Hospital of Wales (UDH) to 3D print custom maxillofacial implants and surgical guides. In the context of the hospital, Renishaw’s additive manufacturing technologies and services are helping UDH to overcome certain challenges surrounding surgical implants.
Prior to this joint project, UDH had already worked with Renishaw, using its services to produce dental products, such as cobalt chrome frameworks. More recently, however, the companies teamed up to 3D print custom medical devices to help reduce surgery times and improve patient care.
By leveraging additive manufacturing, UDH has been able to produce bespoke implants and other custom medical devices which offer a number of advantages over standard, off-the-shelf implants. For instance, while conventional implants may not be the perfect fit for a patient and might require trimming, custom printed implants are tailored to the patient in question. By removing the need to trim down an implant during surgery, the time spent on the operating table can be brought down, saving costs and lessening patient risk.
“AM allows hospitals to achieve high precision when producing implants,” said Ed Littlewood, Marketing Manager of Renishaw’s Medical and Dental Products Division. “By collaborating with Renishaw, UDH can develop their maxillofacial implants further, seeing improvements with each case and helping a wider range of patients and surgeons across different departments.”
Maxillofacial implants are used to treat a range of diseases and injuries associated with the head, neck, face and jaws. In the medical industry, 3D printed maxillofacial implants have been investigated for some time and with some success. In 2017, for example, Materialise received clearance for its TRUMATCH titanium maxillofacial implants in the U.S. for orthognathic surgery and facial reconstruction.
At UDH, the maxillofacial implants are produced in close collaboration with Renishaw, as team members from the hospital are reportedly involved in every stage of the AM process.
“The staff at UDH are also benefitting from the partnership,” elaborated Roger Maggs, Senior Chief Dental Technologist and Head of Dental Technology Services at UDH. “The team are involved in every stage of the development of new technologies for medical applications, including inputting CT data and making and manipulating digital models ahead of surgery. It is admirable that our staff are at the forefront of the latest medical technology and has allowed for the evolution of some very talented technologists such as Luke Maxwell and Paul Clark who must be considered leaders in this technology.”
Renishaw works with a number of other hospitals and medical research groups across Europe to develop and accelerate the use of metal additive manufacturing for medical applications.