Additive Manufacturing Solves 5 Key Problems in Orthopedics

(Guest article by Jason Murphy, President/CEO Next Chapter Manufacturing + NXCMED)

In the field of orthopedics, additive manufacturing has emerged as a game-changer, addressing five critical problems faced by traditional manufacturing methods. Customization and patient-specific solutions are now achievable, thanks to metal additive manufacturing that enables the creation of personalized surgical devices and implants based on patient imaging data. Complex geometries and internal structures, essential for optimal functionality, can be effortlessly fabricated with high precision, surpassing the limitations of conventional manufacturing. Lightweight and optimized designs, made possible by optimized lattice structures, provide enhanced patient comfort, improved device performance, and reduced stress on the body. Material performance and biocompatibility are ensured through the use of medical-grade materials, such as titanium and cobalt-chromium alloys, renowned for their exceptional biocompatibility and mechanical properties. Lastly, metal additive manufacturing streamlines the iterative design process with rapid prototyping, facilitating quick design changes and improvements. The integration of additive manufacturing in orthopedics has revolutionized the field, overcoming longstanding challenges and paving the way for innovative advancements.

#1 Customization and Patient-Specific Solutions:

Traditional manufacturing methods often struggle to accommodate the diverse anatomical requirements of patients. Metal additive manufacturing allows for the creation of patient-specific surgical devices and implants. By utilizing patient imaging data, surgeons and manufacturers can design and fabricate personalized implants that perfectly match an individual’s anatomy. This level of customization enhances surgical outcomes, promotes faster patient recovery, and minimizes the risk of complications.

#2 Complex Geometries and Internal Structures:

Surgical devices and implants often require intricate geometries and internal structures to optimize functionality. Traditional manufacturing methods face limitations in producing such complex designs, resulting in compromised performance. Metal additive manufacturing excels at fabricating intricate structures with high precision, enabling the production of complex geometries, lattice structures, and internal channels. This capability enhances device functionality, promotes better integration with the surrounding tissue, and facilitates improved surgical techniques.

#3 Lightweight and Optimized Designs:

Weight plays a crucial role in surgical devices and implants, as heavy devices can cause discomfort, hinder mobility, and lead to fatigue. Metal additive manufacturing allows for the creation of lightweight yet robust designs by utilizing optimized lattice structures that maintain strength while reducing weight. This results in improved patient comfort, reduced stress on the body, and enhanced overall device performance.

#4 Material Performance and Biocompatibility:

The selection of suitable materials is vital in surgical device manufacturing to ensure biocompatibility, durability, and functionality. Metal additive manufacturing offers a wide range of medical-grade materials, such as titanium and cobalt-chromium alloys, that are known for their excellent biocompatibility and mechanical properties. By using these materials, surgeons and manufacturers can create implants with high strength, corrosion resistance, and compatibility with the human body.

#5 Rapid Prototyping and Iterative Design:

Developing and refining surgical devices often require iterative design changes and prototyping. Traditional manufacturing methods can be time-consuming and costly for such iterative processes. Metal additive manufacturing enables rapid prototyping, allowing for quick design iterations and modifications. This iterative approach accelerates the development timeline, reduces costs, and promotes continuous improvement in surgical device design.

For more information about NXCMED’s capabilities contact:

Jason Murphy
President + CEO
Next Chapter Manufacturing + NXCMED – ISO 13485:2016
3650 Broadmoor Ave SE, Suite 102, Grand Rapids, MI 49512