Cementless 3D printed knee implants are developed by LimaCorporate and Siemens.

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Charles R. Goulding and Preeti Sulibhavi have recently discussed the incredible success that LimaCorporate has achieved with their 3D printed implants. In the United States alone, over 790,000 knee replacement surgeries are performed each year, with patients ranging in age from 50 to 70 years old. As life expectancies increase, more individuals find themselves in need of knee replacements due to wear and tear on their joints.

Traditionally, knee replacements have a success rate of around 90 percent lasting ten years and 80 percent lasting more than 20 years. These impressive statistics are largely due to the advancements made in 3D printing technology. LimaCorporate, in collaboration with Siemens, has teamed up with the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) to create a groundbreaking 3D printed, cementless knee implant.

One of the key advantages of these 3D printed implants is that they are cement-less. Michele Pressacco, the vice president of research and development at LimaCorporate, explains that with cemented arthroplasty, the fixation of the implant to the bone is strongest at the time of implementation. However, over time, the quality of fixation decreases. With cementless arthroplasty using lattice-based metals, the weakest fixation is initially, but bone ingrowth strengthens over time.

The lattice structure is where LimaCorporate found its breakthrough. By combining porous and solid titanium through 3D printing, LimaCorporate created a proprietary 3D structure called Trabecular Titanium™ (TT), which can be combined with the solid parts of a prosthesis using AM powder bed fusion. The result is a cement-less, 3D printed joint prosthesis.

LimaCorporate’s first success came with the TT acetabular cup in 2007, designed for hip replacement surgeries. Encouraged by this success, they turned their attention to 3D printing the cementless knee implant. With increased competition, LimaCorporate has been focused on improving the speed and efficiency of its AM workflow.

Riccardo Toninato, the AM manager at LimaCorporate, worked on an extensive study with LimaCorporate R&D and HSS, reducing AM modeling and job preparation time by 50 percent. Design optimization has allowed them to narrow down candidate designs with fewer experiments, and the use of Siemens software has minimized errors and increased reliability.

In addition to the groundbreaking advancements in biomedical engineering, LimaCorporate has also benefited from working with Siemens to improve its AM processes. The research and development (R&D) tax credit is now available for companies developing new or improved products, processes, and software. 3D printing can contribute to a company’s R&D tax credits by including wages for technical employees involved in creating, testing, and revising 3D printed prototypes. Time spent integrating 3D printing hardware and software, as well as the costs of filaments consumed during the development process, may also be recovered.

The integration of 3D printing technology in knee replacement surgeries is transforming the field of orthopedics and improving health outcomes for countless individuals. The ability to create customized and complex cementless knee implants is made possible through the use of 3D printing. It is clear that companies implementing this technology should take advantage of the R&D tax credits available to them.

In conclusion, LimaCorporate’s collaboration with Siemens and the Hospital for Special Surgery has revolutionized knee replacement surgery through the use of 3D printed, cementless implants. The success of these implants, along with the improvements made in AM workflow efficiency, demonstrate the incredible potential of 3D printing in the field of orthopedics.

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