Health and medical technology
Implants (endoprostheses) can partially or completely replace injured parts of the body such as worn joints or defective bone material and remain permanently inside the human body. Today, endoprostheses are predominantly manufactured by cutting, forming or casting technologies. However, there are restrictions in processing, e.g. the accessibility for cutting tools or draft angles for moulds and dies which finally restrict unlimited geometrical flexibility in the design of implants.
An innovative approach for the manufacturing of endoprostheses can be found in the additive manufacturing technology of beam melting. Thereby the implant gets manufactured by layer wise, local melting of metal with a laser or electron beam, based on 3D CAD data.
Via beam melting technologies, different bio-compatible and medical accredited metals can be processed, including commercially pure titanium and titanium alloys (e.g. Ti-6Al-4V or Ti-6Al-7Nb) or cobalt chromium alloys (e.g. CoCrMo). Furthermore, existing limitations of conventional manufacturing processes can be overcome thanks to the beam melting technology.
In addition to that, virtually any inner and outer design can be realized due to the tool-free additive process approach. Thus, completely new geometries and functions can be implemented in implants and being manufactured with beam melting technologies. Therefore, the beam melting technology is basically suited for direct manufacturing of individual implants based on computer or magnetic resonance tomography data as well as serial production (rapid manufacturing) of standardized implants.