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3D Printing News Roundup: First 3D printed offshore crane hook, record growth for 4WEB Medical, Tethon 3D, more

Jan 16, 2018 | By David

Here’s another round-up of all the latest 3D printing news that you might have missed, to keep you in the loop in this rapidly changing world. Stories this time include another FDA certificate for Emerging Implant Technologies, Huisman testing the world’s first 3D printed offshore crane hook, and much more besides.

1. EIT gets FDA approval for multi-level 3D printed cervical cages

German medical device manufacturer Emerging Implant Technologies has been at the forefront of advanced surgical implant technology for many years now, and has made particularly good use of 3D printing. Its FDA-approved implants boast improved material properties and are customized for a particular patient’s anatomy, with the help of 3D scanning and printing techniques. The company recently announced another milestone, becoming one of the first companies to get FDA approval for its cervical cages to be used on multiple contiguous levels.

EIT’s proprietary 3D printing process and unique titanium material gives the cervical devices improved performance in facilitating bone in-growth, and this is now possible on multiple cervical levels, from C2 to T1. This is a challenge that few other implants have been up to.

Musculoskeletal Clinical Regulatory Advisers, LLC (MCRA), assisted EIT on the FDA strategy and submission. Accoring to Justin Eggleton, Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs, “this clearance represents continued synergy between FDA and the medical community. The expanded indications to multiple levels in the cervical spine facilitates improved surgeon collaboration and the ability to collect data that will strengthen the total product lifecycle, which ultimately benefits patients.”

 

2. World’s first 3D printed offshore crane hook tested by Huisman

Huisman’s unique Wire & Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) technology can be used to produce mid-size to large components with high grade tensile steel. It is capable of managing highly complex shapes with relatively short delivery times, as well as creating alternative material properties that will improve things like wear and corrosion resistance. This large-scale metal 3D printing method is particularly useful for making crane hooks, as larger hooks mean more consistent quality and significant reductions in delivery time, at a cost that can compete with forging and casting methods.

The company has recently carried out successful tests on the world’s first 3D printed crane hook for offshore use.  The large 4-prong hook, with a weight close to 1,000kg, was capable of passing its 80mt load test as well as all other quality control checks. This success means that Huisman will now be able to use WAAM to manufacture reliable components that were physically impossible or commercially infeasible to produce before.

As the adoption of WAAM expands, Huisman intends to improve the technology even further. They hope to continue reducing the cost price for this technique, and to increase manufacturing capabilities up to items of 2,500kg printed weight.

 

3. Tethon 3D launches new material for 3D printing

Tethon 3D, a global leader in the production of ceramic materials for additive manufacturing processes, has recently announced the launch of a new resin material. Known as Castalite, the material is designed to be used to create high-quality 3D printed ceramic molds, which after kiln firing can then be used in metal casting processes.

The new material is a photo-curing ceramic polymer resin for use in SLA or DLP printers, and it has very high heat and thermal shock tolerances. These properties make it ideal for use in casting a broad range of metals, including bronze, gold, silver, and aluminum. The main advantage of using 3D printed ceramic shell models made from Castalite is the elimination of a wax model, or any of the other pre-mold steps that are used in traditional casting techniques. The Castalite process increases the speed of production and decreases the quantity of material used, resulting in a cost reduction.

"Castalite adds another premium material to our product catalogue that compliments the growth seen in SLA and DLP hardware,” says Karen Linder, President and CEO of Tethon 3D. “Recent improvements in 3D printer technology provide higher resolution details in the casted metal part and faster print times. Most printers can print at 25 micron print layers and Castalite demonstrates excellent resolution at that level.”

 

4. South Korean engineers 3D print new bio-inspired underwater sensor

A team of researchers from the Department of Mechatronics Engineering at Jeju National University in South Korea have recently used 3D printing to create an innovative new design for a sensor system. Their 3D printed sensor is modelled after the whiskers that are used by many underwater creatures to detect prey, and it is capable of tracking and measuring underwater vortices to a very high degree of precision.

Bio-inspired designs are increasingly common throughout the engineering world, particularly with soft robotics, and the increased design freedom offered by 3D printing has been a big part of this development. The team made use of PLA filament to 3D print their whisker-like cylinder, which was then connected to output signal wires in a relatively simple sensing system.

A virtual environment was designed to test the device, consisting of a 3D printed fish fin, a water tank, a camera. Data loggers were used to study the responses of the fabricated whisker. The underwater sensitivity of the whisker sensor in any direction was remarkably high. Its mechanical reliability was also tested by bending it up to 2000 cycles, and no physical damage was observed.

 

5. 3D printed medical device company 4WEB Medical announces record growth in 2017

A record sales growth has been announced by 4WEB Medical for 2017. The Dallas-based company, which was founded in 2008, uses 3D printing technology to create advanced surgical implant devices. It has gradually become one of the leaders in its field, particularly due to its proprietary spinal truss implant platform, which can be used to make lightweight customized cervical, lateral, anterior, and posterior devices.

The company posted a year-over-year growth figure of 57 percent for the 2017 fiscal year.  In addition, 4WEB's fourth quarter results outdid the largest quarter in the company's history so far, in terms of revenue, units sold, surgeon users, and case volume. The company expects a continuation of this growth in 2018, through the continued adoption of its most recent product launches, including a new line of 3D printed Hyperlordotic ALIF Implants.

"4WEB continues to drive growth with portfolio enhancements and new surgeon adoption of its truss implant technology.  In 2017 we achieved an 84% increase in surgeon users with over 300 surgeons having used our implants nationwide," said Geoffrey Bigos, 4WEB Medical's Vice President of Spine Sales.  "This accomplishment was attributed to an expansion of our sales management team, the growth of our existing product offering, and significant investments in new product development."

 

6. Canadian auto parts manufacturer Linamar to use government investment for 3D printing

The Canadian government has announced that it will be investing CA $49 million into Linamar Corp, one of the country’s leading manufacturers of auto parts. The investment will be used to support the company’s growth. This growth should see the creation of 1500 new Canadian jobs, as well as the support and maintenance of more than 8,000 aiding manufacturing processes, including artificial intelligence and 3D printing.

Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, recently made this announcement before heading to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit,. to meet with global and Canadian executives to discuss Canada’s role in North America’s auto industry. The Canadian government hopes to support continued innovation in the automotive manufacturing sector. It is encouraging investment that will help develop the talent and infrastructure required to implement 3D printing and other cutting-edge technologies. The end goal is a cleaner automotive industry and the increased production of more efficient, environmentally-friendly vehicles.

 

 

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