Look for additive manufacturing to play a growing role in medical and dental applications.
Objet (Rehovot, Israel) is launching a new bio-compatible 3D printing material (MED610) that provides high dimensional stability and transparency. The company's goal is to replace polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) in a wide range of medical and dental applications — particularly the production of highly accurate, customized surgical guides.
It's the latest move in the surge of health-related applications of 3D printed products, which offer customization of dental implants, hearing aids, even cranial implants. The medical market is less cost sensitive than the industrial market, and values the ability to create very intricate shapes.
The challenge has been the development of materials for the process that can match the capabilities of molded and machined plastics.
The interest of the materials' companies was readily apparent at K2010 (Düsseldorf, Germany). There, Jean-Pierre Marchand, director of marketing and innovation for Rhodia's Engineering Plastics, announced the launch of polyamide powders for rapid prototyping and limited volume manufacturing by selective laser sintering (SLS). Among the major materials' producers, Arkema and Evonik also showed their capabilities in new materials for additive manufacturing at the K Fair.
Objet describes its new biocompatible acrylic photopolymer material as ideal for prolonged skin contact of more than 30 days and mucosal-membrane contact of up to 24 hours. It has five medical approvals according to the harmonized standard ISO 10993-1: cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, delayed type hypersensitivity, irritation and USP Plastic Class VI. MED610 is also manufactured under the ISO 13485:2003 certification, which specifies that every batch of the material undergo bio-compatibility conformity testing prior to being packaged.
Dr. Stan Brodie, specialist in digital implant planning and surgical guides at iDent, comments: "The accuracy and fine detail of Objet 3D-printed surgical guides guarantee surgeons a consistently high level of precision that's unmatched by manual processes. The new bio-compatible material now introduces further benefits to the process with improved transparency, making it easier to monitor underlying soft tissue during dental procedures."
MED610 is the second material the company has created specifically for dental and medical applications. It joins the company's original Objet VeroDent material, currently used by dental labs worldwide in digital dental processes. Bruce Bradshaw, director of marketing at Objet Geometries, told PlasticsToday.com in an interview that MED610 can be used in a variety of human contact applications, including hearing aids. The price is approximately $6 per cubic inch.
Last week, 3D Systems (Rock Hill, SC) announced development of a new VisiJet Clear print material that meets the requirements of USP Class VI for plastics. The material is designed for medical and dental applications such as surgical drill guides, dental models and surgical planning models.