3D Printed Implants a Solution for Spinal Disorders

3D printing is being used to produce components across many medical disciplines since it offers various benefits when compared with standard manufacturing techniques.

Treating people with spinal disorders using this method is becoming more commonplace thanks to the impressive 3D printing potential offered by fiber laser systems. So what steps are being made in this respect and what can patients and practitioners expect going forwards?

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Curing the back pain epidemic

Millions of people in the developed world suffer from chronic back pain issues, many of which are difficult to alleviate using existing techniques.

Thankfully, implants called interbody cages are one of the options available to those who are looking for relief from this issue. In particular, it is possible to integrate these to address herniated discs, returning the spin to its normal configuration and dramatically improving the patient’s mobility while lessening the pain of their condition.

These implants can be 3D printed using titanium and then integrated as a means of surprising additional support to the vertebrae.

An alloy made of titanium is used because it is strong, light and will not be rejected by the immune system of the patient. It is also one of the materials which fiber lasers can be used to manipulate efficiently and accurately.

Of course, it is not just interbody cages which are being produced with 3D printing to address spinal disorders but also a range of other implants, presenting healthcare experts with a wide variety of options when confronted with even the most challenging cases.

Benefits of 3D printing for prostheses production

Being able to take advantage of additive manufacturing to create spinal implants is empowering for many reasons.

For example, it helps to overcome the limitations of being beholden to the availability of generic implants that are not guaranteed to be suitable for every patient. Each person is different and so in some scenarios, the most affordable and accessible implant options will not fit their skeletal infrastructure. In this instance, being able to use 3D printing to create a complexly custom implant that is made to measure for each patient is a boon.

The affordability of 3D printed implants goes hand in hand with this since in the past custom implant options would have been prohibitively expensive to design and produce. Today, with the help of fiber laser additive manufacturing solutions, it is quick, simple and cost-effective.

It is worth noting that the rollout of 3D printing tech like this to hospitals is taking time to implement, so in the cases of an emergency procedure being required there are still some hurdles to overcome. However, it is expected that in years to come it will be entirely normal for all major healthcare centres to have on-site additive manufacturing solutions at their disposal to produce implants of all types, not just for spinal disorder treatment but for lots of other ailments.

One other element of the 3D printing process which makes it well equipped to take on the trickier aspects of spinal implant production is that it can be used to make small batches of components and does not require a large scale approach to become economically viable. Since every design is created digitally and executed through additive manufacturing, no other tools or steps are needed and a single piece of equipment can create an entire implant, or even several, in one go.

3D printing a spinal disc

3D printing a spinal disc

Advice and information about additive manufacturing

The team at SPI Lasers will give you the lowdown on all applications related to fiber laser technologies, including 3D printing as well as things like cutting, welding, marking and cleaning. Get in touch now for further details.


Image Credits: Gkhaus and Wikimedia


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