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Rapid prototyping to be used for human implant development


December 30, 2006

December 31, 2006 Colorado-based Medical Modeling is set to begin using an EBM (Electron Beam Melting) Metal Rapid Manufacturing and Prototyping System to design and build titanium implants for insertion into the body. The company is also planning to provide surgeons and medical device manufacturers with titanium models for improved surgical planning and implant development. Using data acquired from CT or MRI (Computed Tomography or Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scans, Medical Modeling creates highly accurate, three dimensional anatomical models of bone structures – such as the skull, pelvis and spine – and soft tissue – such as the brain and organs. Using its Arcam EBM system with titanium material, Medical Modeling can create fully dense, fully functional models of surgical instruments, guides and potentially implantable devices. The rapid manufacturing and prototyping system is a Stratasys Arcam EBM S-400, which manufacture real parts or prototypes from metal.

“We looked for years for a technology provider that could help us create complex metal models in titanium, allowing us to meet a unique market niche,” says Medical Modeling president, Andy Christensen. “We believe that use of EBM technology will allow many manufacturers of medical devices the ability to reduce or eliminate non-digital technologies in the process of taking a design to a fully functional metal part.” Benefits of minimizing non-digital technologies include streamlined production times and less waste, translating into more efficient manufacturing.

Medical Modeling provides rapid prototyping services for the medical industry. “The Arcam EBM system allows Medical Modeling to help surgeons make better-informed decisions during operations, improving patient recovery and surgical success,” says Kirby Quirk, Stratasys EBM sales-channel manager. “The use of metal materials, such as titanium, is an exciting new area for rapid manufacturing, and we’re pleased to enable Medical Modeling to deliver a much needed service to improve the lives of people worldwide.”

EBM technology, patented by Arcam AB, offers a unique method for rapid manufacturing and prototyping metal components. EBM produces solid metal parts through a patented CAD to Metal process, where parts are built in layers of metal powder, each of which is melted by an electron beam to the exact geometry defined by the CAD file. Because this process occurs in a high vacuum, parts are completely solid, without imperfections caused by oxidation. The time, cost and challenges of machining or investment casting are eliminated, which makes alloy parts readily available for functional testing or installation.

Arcam and CAD to Metal are registered trademarks of Arcam AB, Gothenburg, Sweden.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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