Partership Formed to Offer Unique 3-D Metal-Implant Manufacturing Tool
In what participating companies are calling a “first-of-its-kind offering” in North America, C&A Tool (Churubusco, Ind.) and Within Lab (New York, N.Y.) have launched a patient-specific, metal-implant design and manufacturing program called Within Medical.
Photo caption: Finger implants (at left) can be made out of cobalt chrome or titanium using DMLS. These can be designed to allow varying levels of porosity to encourage bone in-growth into the implant structure. Photo courtesty of Within Labs.
The service combines free downloadable software developed by Within, and additive manufacturing (AM, also called 3-D printing) technology using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) from EOS GmbH.
Targeting medical, surgical and orthopedic designers and manufacturers, the software facilitates the creation of highly customized products that improve osseointegration (bone growth).
“With this program, companies now have the opportunity to explore the benefits that designing for DMLS can bring to their medical products—without investing in their own laser-sintering system,” says John Halverson, medical business unit manager at C&A Tool. “Through this technology, they’ll be able to discover firsthand how DMLS reduces manufacturing steps, improves product performance and allows them to tailor medical products to individual patient needs.”
In traditional medical manufacturing the smooth, rough, and porous surfaces required for successful implantation are accomplished exclusively through secondary finishing—for instance, using machining along with plasma spraying or hand-sintering beads. DMLS eliminates many of these costly, additional processes by creating the necessary mix of surfaces as it builds the part layer by layer.
At the same time, the program offers engineers another benefit: the freedom to move beyond the limits of developing implants in predetermined sizes. Instead, according to the participating companies, they can choose to design patient-matched spinal reconstructions, acetabular cups, tibial trays, and other parts from MRI or CT scan data.
C&A Tool has complemented its in-house machining capability with an investment in six EOS DMLS systems (both EOSINT M 270 and M 280). For orthopedic applications, the systems use biocompatible materials, such as medical-grade titanium (Ti64) cobalt-chrome, and stainless steel alloys.
The new software gives designers the medium from which to manufacture highly complex geometries, including lightweight yet strong micro-latticed structures. EOS’s laser-sintering technology produces these intricate organic geometries as single-piece components.
Protecting proprietary digital models as they are passed between designers, OEMs, service bureaus, and contract manufacturers is also part of the new collaboration at C&A Tool and Within.
"Within Medical design software is free, easy to use and offers a high level of design control,” says Kaveh Mahdavi, project manager at Within. “When developing Within Medical, we focused on the end-to-end solution, everything from design to manufacturing to validation. When coupled with additive manufacturing, the quality is superior to any existing products on the market."
Highlights of the initiative that benefit medical manufacturers include:
• No up-front investment for the user in either machine equipment or software;
• Flexible business models (from unlimited builds to per-part builds);
• Patient-specific products;
• Design freedom; and
• File encryption.
For a free download of the design software go to www.withinlab.com/medical/register.php.
Founded in 1969, C&A Tool is a metal-working service provider focused on finished products for precision medical and surgical applications and high-performance aerospace/defense, transportation, industrial, and other equipment.
Founded in 1989, EOS provides design-driven, integrated e-manufacturing solutions for additive manufacturing (also called industrial 3-D printing). EOS offers a modular solution portfolio including systems, software, materials and material development as well as services (maintenance, training, specific application consulting and support).
London, England-based Within is an engineering design software and consulting company. Its software and CAD designs focus on additive manufacturing to create variable-density lattice structures and surface skins to exacting specifications. Customers include medical, aerospace and other industries. The company’s U.S. base is in New York, N.Y.