UC San Francisco partners with Chinese 3D-printing company to advance orthopedics

Medical researchers in San Francisco are teaming up with a 3D-printing and materials company in Shanghai to forge new frontiers in orthopedics.

The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and Intamsys, a manufacturer of industrial 3D printers and a supplier of PEEK filament and other high-performance materials, have announced a joint-research initiative to advance 3D-printing applications in the field of orthopedic surgery. The project will be led by EDGE Labs, a division within UCSF’s  Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. 

3D-printed part made from Intamsys PEEK filament
Image courtesy Intamsys.

“We are very pleased to work with the UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery to advance PEEK applications in medicine, as well as promoting healthcare cost savings in the field of orthopedics,” said Charles Han, CEO of Intamsys. “Collaborating with surgeons to deliver the best possible patient outcomes is what drives our company.”

Because it combines biocompatibility with wear resistance and overall durability, PEEK has replaced metals in a number of orthopedic applications to date. Last year, Evonik reported that its Vestakeep brand of PEEK was used in the design and development of more than 80 medical devices cleared by FDA.

PEEK 3D printing filament from Intamsys integrates those properties in a reportedly affordable package. “This level of industrial-grade printing has not been available at this price point,” said Alexis Dang, MD, orthopaedic surgeon, one of the UCSF researchers that will be leading the project. “We are interested in being able to prototype customized implants using high-temperature materials such as PEEK.”

Intamsys' PEEK filament has unique properties because it does not come into contact with water during the production process and is directly inserted in vacuum packaging, according to Intamsys. These properties make the Intamsys PEEK filament particularly suitable for use in fused filament fabrication printers developed by the company. The material features excellent adhesion between layers, which improves the material's impact resistance, strength and durability, as well as the printing process, reports Intamsys on its website.

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