|This customised craniofacial PEEK implant has a scaffolding mesh that can only be created by laser-sintering. The mesh promotes improved bone growth after implantation.|
EOS’ Collaborative Projects Coordinator, Joerg Lenz, delivered a previously unpublished technical paper on results from a European Union-funded project called Custom-IMD. Core project activities include the development of new biomaterials and rapid manufacturing technologies that will allow customised implants to be delivered to surgeons within a 48 hour time frame.
Entitled “Laser Sintering of PEEK", Lenz's paper described plastic test implants fabricated at EOS' headquarters in Germany using the EOSINT P 800 system, the first laser-sintering system capable of operating at up to 385 degrees C for processing high-performance polymers.
High-temperature, biocompatible PEEK (polyaryletherketone) is increasingly used as an alternative to titanium for craniofacial implants, which are produced from CT-scan geometry for patients with head injuries or congenital deformities. The paper documented the first validated in vivo (animal) results for laser-sintered PEEK.
“Conventional manufacturing technologies are not able to produce patient-customised craniofacial implants, either titanium or PEEK, as economically or in as short a time span as laser-sintering,” said Lenz.
“What is more, EOS technology has enabled us to develop a specific geometry that can only be achieved using additive manufacturing. The new design incorporates a mesh scaffold that promotes improved bone growth and optimises infiltration with a hydroxyapatite-filled, bio-absorbable polymer.”
Implants displayed on the EOS stand at the show included one filled with the polymer.
Lenz serves on a number of international standardisation organisations, including ASTM Committee F42 on additive manufacturing technologies. PEEK-implant animal studies continue through the EU-funded project and human trials are planned for the future.
The implant pictured was designed by a team at AZM (the University Hospital Maastricht, The Netherlands) headed by Dr Jules Poukens. A patent for the network of holes in the mesh scaffold has been applied for.
Scott Killian of Royal Engineered Composites, the first American user of the P 800, was on the EOS stand to discuss his company’s use of the machine and show sample geometries of PEEK medical and aerospace parts. There was a working FORMIGA P 100 laser-sintering system as well as metal parts produced with direct metal laser-sintering (DMLS).
EOS Electro Optical Systems Ltd