LayerWise Uses 3D Printing for Lightweight Jaw Transplant

6th February 2012

LayerWise has applied Additive Manufacturing (AM) to produce a Titanium total lower jaw implant reconstruction, developed in collaboration with project partners from medical industries and academia. To treat a senior patient’s progressive osteomyelitis of almost the entire lower jawbone, medical specialists and surgeons opted for such a complete patient‐specific implant the first time ever. AM technology specialists at LayerWise used 3D printing technology to manufacture the complex implant design incorporating articulated joints and dedicated features. The reconstruction – post‐processed with dental suprastructure provisions, polished joint surfaces and a bioceramic coating –has been implanted successfully. It restored the patient’s facial esthetics and allowed her to regain her speech within hours.

A high‐precision laser selectively heats metal powder particles, in order to quickly and fully melt to properly attach to the previous layer without glue or binder liquid. As layers are built successively, AM hardly faces any restrictions to produce the complex lower jaw implant structure. AM is used to print functional implant shapes that otherwise require multiple metalworking steps or even cannot be produced any other way.

3D printing and additive manufacturing are seen as cost effective solutions to the challenge of manufacturing components that are optimized for material usage and weight through design optimization techniques. The techniques ‘grow’ structures rather than shaping them by subtraction so the ideal material layout, which balances weight and performance, can be created without the need to compromise for manufacturing constraints.

Dr. ir. Peter Mercelis, Managing Director of LayerWise: “Besides a successful track record in industrial sectors, metal AM is gaining importance in medical implantology. AM’s freedom of shape allows the most complex freeform geometries to be produced as a single part prior to surgery. As illustrated by the lower jaw reconstruction, patient‐specific implants can potentially be applied on a much wider scale than transplantation of human bone structures and soft tissues. The use of such implants yield excellent form and function, speeds up surgery and patient recovery, and reduces the risk for medical complications.”

Press Release from LayerWise