The 3D printing technology has seen a lot of innovations in the additive manufacturing industry as well as aerospace technology. Recently, the medical industry has taken advantage of 3D printing in creating medical implants.
In fact, scientists from Germany’s Laser Zentrum Hannover were able to develop a laser melting process to create implants made from nickel-titanium, platinum or stainless steel. The new technology developed was called selective laser micro-melting process. The project was carried out with the Institute of Biomedical Technology that uses selective laser micro-melting to coat electrodes for pacemakers with platinum.
The application of this new technology is to lengthen the lifespan of pacemakers. Researchers noted that one way of lengthening the life of the pacemaker is to adapt the form as well as surface of the electrodes. Platinum has inert properties as well as good conductivity. However, it is difficult to embed them on small medical devices using traditional casting methods without destroying the integrity of the medical implant. Thus, scientists developed the new procedure to effectively coat the pacemakers with the metal alloy.
Aside from effectively coating the medical implants with platinum, researchers were also able to create lattice structures from shape memory alloys that has the capability to retain the characteristics of the memory alloy. Scientists were also able to produce closed cell design stent structures from this new procedure using stainless steel.
It is clear that using lasers are very beneficial in additive manufacturing and in the medical industry to create next-generation implants that has better quality and will also last longer than conventional implants.