UNL Uses Optomec AM System for Magnesium Medical Implants

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The University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is using a LENS Hybrid Controlled Atmosphere System from additive manufacturing systems supplier Optomec to develop dissolvable magnesium components that will have broad-reaching implications in the design and manufacture of next-generation medical implants.

The LENS systems use a high power laser (400W to 3kW) to fuse powdered metals into fully dense three-dimensional structures. The LENS 3D printers use the geometric information contained in a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) solid model to automatically drive the LENS process as it builds up a component layer by layer.

This work will enable 3D-printed, patient-specific implants with controlled time to dissolve, eliminating the need for second surgeries, thus reducing risks, costs, and suffering for patients.

University of Nebraska Lincoln uses LENS Hybrid Controlled Atmosphere System to develop next generation dissolvable medical implants. Courtesy of Optomec.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers are using a LENS Hybrid Controlled Atmosphere System to develop next-generation dissolvable medical implants. Courtesy of Optomec.

“We are proud to be the first customer of an Optomec LENS Hybrid Controlled Atmosphere System, the only commercially available machine to provide hybrid manufacturing capabilities for reactive metals,” said Michael Sealy, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering at UNL and a pioneer in advanced manufacturing research. “Our research is focused on advancing the performance and functionality of dissolvable devices. Using LENS, we are applying a hybrid additive manufacturing process to control the disintegration of medical fasteners and plates so they stay intact long enough to serve their purpose and then degrade away once the bone is healed.”

Currently, medical implants such as plates and screws are made of titanium or stainless steel, which are permanent structures that often have high complication rates and require a second surgery for removal. By using the LENS system to print patient-specific magnesium implants with a controlled time to dissolve, Sealy’s team is helping to eliminate the need for second surgeries.

Published: October 2018
additive manufacturing
Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, is a manufacturing process that involves creating three-dimensional objects by adding material layer by layer. This is in contrast to traditional manufacturing methods, which often involve subtracting or forming materials to achieve the desired shape. In additive manufacturing, a digital model of the object is created using computer-aided design (CAD) software, and this digital model is then sliced into thin cross-sectional layers. The...
BusinessUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnUNLlensesHybrid Controlled Atmosphere Systemadditive manufacturingOptomecBiophotonicsMichael SealyTom CobbspartnershipsAmericasRapidScan

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