In industrialized countries, the incidence of spinal diseases is on the rise. The 3D printed titanium implants bring hope for some serious illnesses. At first glance, these little gray objects are ordinary, but they can change a person's life. They are called intervertebral fusion cages, which are spinal implants used to fix the gap between two vertebrae and restore the natural height of the vertebral body. In order to successfully achieve this function, the fusion device must meet strict design requirements. In addition to being able to withstand mechanical pressure, they must also be lightweight and biocompatible, so that they do not cause rejection. The Moscow-based CONMET company currently uses 3D printing technology to produce fusion devices on TRUMPF TruPrint 1000. In the mid-term, general manager Dmitry Tetyukhin plans to deploy a TruPrint 3000 and upgrade to mass production.
Back pain is very common in industrialized countries and is the most common health problem. Such patients will feel pain every day and their physical activity will decline. If the condition is severe, symptoms such as a herniated disc can only be treated with surgery, using implants to strengthen the spine.
The prototype of the 3D printed fusion cage: For a long time, spinal fusion has been the last resort for a herniated disc, but now 3D printed fusion cages can restore the vertebral body to its natural height, allowing patients to move freely without pain. For this reason, the cage must not only have biocompatibility, but also have enough toughness to ensure that it will not tear or break.
As early as 1993, the Moscow company CONMET recognized the transformative potential of customizing medical implants using 3D prototype technology. Since then, CONMET has worked closely with research centers and industry partners to research and test oral and maxillofacial implants. As the leading implant manufacturer in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the company is actively entering the huge potential spinal implant market to consolidate its position. Nadeschda Morozova, production manager of CONMET, said: “About 60% of degenerative Spine diseases and spinal injury surgery require the implantation of a fusion cage, so the demand is very strong."
The cage itself is made of biocompatible titanium alloy. One of the main problems faced by fusion cage manufacturers is how to make the surface porosity accurately meet the requirements. Morozova explained: "The porous structure can promote osseointegration, that is, the structure and function between the living bone tissue and the surface of the implant. Sexual connection. Traditional methods such as turning, milling, and casting are almost impossible to create such a structure, so 3D printing has a significant competitive advantage."
CONMET uses TRUMPF's TruPrint 1000 to develop parameters and test various shapes and materials. Morozova said: "Our goal is to understand all the relevant processes, so as to customize implants for specific patients, and lay the foundation for mass production for the company as soon as possible." This is the second TRUMPF 3D printer put into use by CONMET . In early 2018, the company started using TruPrint 1000 to produce teeth and cranio-maxillofacial implants for cancer and trauma patients. In addition to the machine tool itself, TRUMPF also provides suitable titanium powder, substrates, coating tools and software. TRUMPF's rich expertise and successful cooperation were the decisive factors for Dmitry Tetyukhin's determination to purchase a second printer. Morozova explained: “The experts of TRUMPF in Ditzingen and the staff in the Moscow subsidiary provided us with a lot of support and advice, and helped us introduce new technologies. It turns out that they are very reliable partners. Their Expert knowledge also played a valuable role in the second project, such as determining the appropriate parameters." CONMET plans to order a TruPrint 3000 to start mass production of spinal implants.