Belgian Metal “Rapid Manufacturing” company LayerWise is in the news for its development of a prosthetic jaw bone made using the company’s applied Additive Manufacturing (AM) technique. Layerwise has produced an award-winning Titanium lower jaw reconstruction in collaboration with project partners in medical industries and academia.
Metal AM is an additive technology similar to the conventional polymer Rapid Prototyping. According to the company; “Since parts are built layer by layer, the term “undercut” is a word of the past. The resulting parts however are as durable as a conventional part.”
The patient and her implant
To treat a senior patient’s progressive osteomyelitis of almost the entire lower jaw bone, surgeons opted for such a complete patient-specific implant the first time ever. AM technology specialists at LayerWise effectively “printed” the complex implant design incorporating articulated joints and dedicated features. The reconstruction – post-processed with what the release calls “dental suprastructure provisions” (holes for teeth), polished joint surfaces and a bioceramic coating – has been implanted successfully. It reportedly restored the patient’s facial aesthetics and allowed her to regain her speach within hours.
Peter Mercelis, Managing Director of LayerWise said; “Besides a successful track record in industrial sectors, metal AM is gaining importance in medical implantology. AM’s freedom of shape allows the most complex freeform geometries to be produced as a single part prior to surgery. As illustrated by the lower jaw reconstruction, patient-specific implants can potentially be applied on a much wider scale than transplantation of human bone structures and soft tissues. The use of such implants yield excellent form and function, speeds up surgery and patient recovery, and reduces the risk for medical complications.”
Rather like the tracheal scaffold we highlighted here recently, harnessing the twin disciplines of state-of-the-art imaging technology and new techniques like metal additive manufacturing must mean we’re at the beginning of an exciting period in medical implant solutions.