An Individual Fit


Generative manufacturing procedures are allowing for a new generation of implants

The trend for individualisation is currently establishing itself in all product areas. In the area of medical technology demand is especially big, and thanks to generative procedures, it can be satisfied more rapidly and to better effect. The latest developments in this area are set to be the focus of the specialist exhibition for rapid technology – Rapid.Tech. On 26th and 27th May 2009, this practically-oriented exhibition will, for the sixth time, bring together constructing engineers, users and designers at the Messe Erfurt (Erfurt Trade Fair centre). The combination of an exhibition, a users’ conference and a meeting of constructing engineers will support a sector-spanning exchange of experience and the rapid entry into a complex technological environment.

Generative manufacturing procedures are currently finding relevance to the world of business and to the future primarily in the area of medical technology. No other manufacturing technique can create better conditions for the production of patient-specific implants. The further refinement of this procedure is being worked on throughout the world, including the Institute of Laser and System Technologies at Hamburg-Harburg Technical University, Germany, where Maximilian Munsch and Prof. Dr. (Eng.) Claus Emmelmann currently work in this field. At Erfurt, they will be presenting porous network structures for use as enossal tooth root implants. These can be optimised through the targeted adaptation of the geometry with regard to mechanical rigidity, in order to attain properties which are similar to bone.
The range of possibilities offered by generative manufacturing procedures in the area of medical technology is both varied and rich in detail. Simon Hoeges and Dr. Wilhelm Meiners will also be highlighting some interesting facts surrounding this topic at the exhibition in Erfurt. At the Fraunhofer Institute for laser technology in Aachen, they are currently realising the rapid manufacturing of individual implants in medical technology using selective laser melting (SLM) for the standard materials of titanium and cobalt-chrome-alloys, and are also contributing to research for the use of SLM in the preparation of bio-absorbable materials. With this procedure, it is possible to manufacture replacement bone implants using the bio-absorbent ceramic material tricalcium phosphate (TCP) and the polymer polyactide (PLA) which are then individually customised to patients. The innovation in this particular area is that the body later breaks these implants down and replaces them with its own bone material. With bio absorbent implants, children, in particular can be spared a repeated operation for the adaptation of the size of the implant.
Implants are also indispensable in the area of dental medicine. Dr. Martin Klare and Dr. Christian Schmidt are currently working intensively on the generative manufacturing of dental models, and at Erfurt they will be presenting the latest findings regarding a manufacturing process based on stereo lithography.
The new generation of designers is also enthusiastic about the use of generative procedures in the area of medical technology. In 2007, Jannis Breuninger developed a reproducible and standardised leg prosthesis in collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA) in Stuttgart. Mr. Breuninger, currently a student at the University of Applied Sciences Schwäbisch Gmünd, was awarded with one of the top prizes in the Student Design Award for Rapid Manufacturing for his efforts. Since 2007, this design competition, organised by the Erfurt Trade Fair AG and the Thuringia Foundation for Technology, Innovation and Research (STIFT) has been providing visionary ideas for the entire generative sector. This year, for the first time ever, the BMW Group GINA Design Award is also set to be awarded as a special prize at Erfurt.