Advances in Spinal Implants
3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has ushered in advancements across many industries, including the medical industry. One area, in particular, that has been impacted is the manufacture of medical implants. Additive manufacturing has allowed implants to be created that conform precisely to each patient’s anatomy, revolutionizing the industry. One area of implants which has been especially affected is in the treatment of spinal conditions. Not only can spinal implants that are precisely designed to fit each individual patient’s anatomy be fabricated, but advanced medical-grade 3D printing can use cutting-edge materials to create porous structures that encourage full integration with the human body. The goal of using these porous structures is an attempt to simulate the architectural properties of bone, while the material still offers the strength and durability of a medical implant.
Recently, medical device manufacturing company Stryker decided to focus on integrating additive manufacturing with the introduction of a 3D-printed spinal implant. The company’s spine division has introduced a 3D-printed “Tritanium” posterior lumbar cage spinal implant as well as most recently, a Tritanium C Anterior Cervical Cage, which has received vital 510(k) clearance from the FDA. The tritanium posterior lumbar cage–as well as its other tritanium medical implants, are printed by Stryker’s proprietary LRM (Laser Rapid Manufacturing) technology.
Ultrasonic Cleaning and Additive Printing
Continual advances in 3D printing have made this developing technology widely adopted across many areas of industry and manufacturing. Basically, 3D printers work by extruding tiny drops of liquid material in thin layers as they follow a digital design fed to them by a computer. The substrate material which the 3D printer uses is usually a type of resin or plastic that is in liquid or paste form when it is deposited and then quickly hardens into a solid, though the substrate can also be in the form of a metallic amalgam. These additive manufacturing “printers” can be used to create items with complex shapes such as prototypes or samples, make test pieces before starting production, or even manufacture finished, working parts for immediate use.
Extremely complex items may have overhangs, gaps or complicated structures inside them, or even parts that have to move around one another. Generally, the 3D printer makes sure that overhangs and structures don’t collapse or stick together by depositing supporting material consisting of a different substrate material underneath or around these parts. Once the 3D item is “printed,” this extra material must be removed.
When 3D printing was in its infancy, removing extra supporting and separating material from a 3D printed part quickly and effectively could be difficult, requiring labor and time intensive scrubbing and soaking. Even with the best efforts, residue might be left behind. It was later discovered that ultrasonic cleaning was an excellent solution for the cleaning of these parts and the removal of the unwanted support substrate material. Ultrasonic cleaners clean quickly and clean thoroughly, even around complex shapes and in hard-to-reach places.
Furthermore, for certain applications the final printed object must be completely clean of any contaminants such as dust and bacteria, in addition to all supporting substrate material. For example, medical implants need to be absolutely clean before they can be used in a patient. Ultrasonic cleaning therefore plays a vital role for the success of the medical implant industry.
How Ultrasonic Cleaning Works
An ultrasonic cleaning system works by using ultrasonic waves to generate cavitation bubbles in a cleaning liquid. The bubbles form and collapse in time with the frequency of the sound waves, releasing powerful jets through the liquid. This bubble action results in an intense scrubbing effect wherever the cleaning liquid touches the surface of the 3D printed item. If the cleaning liquid contains a detergent specifically designed to help dissolve the unwanted material or if the material is soft compared to the rest of the item, only the unwanted material will be removed.
Omegasonics New Cleaning Unit and Certifications
Ultrasonic cleaning systems manufacturer Omegasonics not only has years of experience in the field of using ultrasonic technology to clean 3D printed parts, but it obtained the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certification, CE Marking certification, and Underwriters Laboratory (UL) certification for its 20-gallon 1900BT cleaning unit. This cleaning unit was the predecessor to the Omegasonics 1900BTX unit which is Omegasonics’ current offering for a cleaning unit designed specifically to clean 3D prototype parts. Omegasonics has also garnered the same important internationally recognized certifications for its SST4030 ultrasonic parts cleaner–specifically designed to be used with additive printing systems such as the Stratasys Fortus 900mc 3D printer.
Frank Pedeflous, the President of Omegasonics, said, “Having secured these certifications for the SST4030, the industries that have embraced 3D printing technology can be confident that this ultrasonic cleaning unit will consistently perform within the safety parameters required by the CE, CSA and UL.”
Want to know more about how Omegasonics can assist with ultrasonic cleaning for additive printing? Contact your Omegasonics representative at 888-989-5560 or email us at email@example.com