TWI has recently collaborated with Metalysis, the metal powder technology company, to demonstrate the feasibility of its tantalum powder in metal additive layer manufacturing for biomedical applications such as patient-bespoke hip joints. The project successfully produced both uniform and randomized tantalum lattice structures that are bio-inert, replicate the structural stiffness of bone and allow for extensive integration with bone cells, so that the new joint is readily accepted by the body.
Metalysis’ high-quality metal powder, combined with TWI’s expertise, has demonstrated the significant potential of creating lattice structures using a specific metal additive manufacturing technique – selective laser melting (SLM) – for use in hip joints, implants and other new biomedical products that will both benefit patient wellbeing and bring cost savings to the wider market.
A TWI spokesman said: ‘We have already seen the great success Metalysis has had printing automotive parts. Our analysis suggests these metals are incredibly versatile and highly suited to the medical industry. Metal 3D-printed hip replacements could be a huge step forward, allowing patients to have a tailor-made joint by scanning their other hip and matching it with a metal 3D-printed replacement, rather than being restricted to the choice of standard sizes now available.’