Additively manufactured spinal implants

A collaboration between advanced technology and engineering companies has demonstrated the advantages of additive manufacturing (AM) in the production of spinal implants.

Manufacturing research organisation Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR) designed a representative titanium spinal implant, aimed at the cervical spine (c spine), using advanced manufacturing software company nTopology’s generative design software, which cut the design time of these complex structures from days to minutes.

IMR then manufactured the implants using Renishaw’s RenAM 500M metal AM system. As a result, the collaboration reduced the amount of post processing required on key features of the implants by a factor of ten.

“AM can be used to manufacture spinal implants with lattice structures, which cannot be achieved with conventional manufacturing techniques,” explained Ed Littlewood, marketing manager of Renishaw’s Medical and Dental Products Division. “An implant with a lattice structure is lightweight, can be optimised to meet the required loading conditions and has a greater surface area, which can aid osseointegration.

“Therefore, AM implants can be designed to mimic the mechanical properties of bone, resulting in better patient outcomes.”

Patients with medical conditions including degenerative disc disease, herniated disc, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis and osteoporosis can require spinal implants to restore intervertebral height. The improved implant design made possible by AM means patients may require shorter surgery time and fewer revision surgeries, saving healthcare resources and costs.