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R&D Focus

3D Additive Manufactured Implants for Bone Fusion

3D additive manufactured (AM) cages for repairing intervertebral disc disorders.

3D additive manufactured (AM) cages for repairing intervertebral disc disorders.

Multidisciplinary integration and cooperation in ITRI make it possible to produce bionic bone with 3D additive manufacturing (AM) technology. With AM, a variety of bone fixation and prosthesis devices can be customized to meet patients’ personalized demand. In 2016, the AM process and micro-structure design technologies for bone regeneration were transferred to a biotech startup. The R&D team from ITRI also won the 2017 National Innovation Award.

So what do ITRI’s 3D-printed bone materials feature? Traditional bone materials are solid and heavy, which can easily cause secondary damage when implanted in the body and thus may discourage patients from deciding to undergo a bone graft. ITRI’s bionic bone material, however, can facilitate the regeneration of human tissues and can be easily fused with bones. It is more hydrophilic and lightweight, with a hollow and porous structure. In addition, this solution allows for custom design and only requires minimally invasive surgery.

Currently, ITRI is assisting domestic manufacturers in developing 3D-printed interbody cages. Such cages can be used in lumbar interbody fusion surgery performed in patients with degenerative spine disease, who will recover faster after surgery than those using traditional interbody cages. Better bone integration will then help them to resume their normal life sooner. It is expected that the 3D-printed interbody cages will pass GMP certification in the middle of next year, and hit the market late next year.

According to ITRI’s Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center (IEK), the revenue generated by the global orthopedic device market was US$38.4 billion in 2017, and is expected to reach US$43.31 billion in 2020. The overall compound annual growth rate will reach 3.8%. Dr. Chii-Wann Lin, General Director of ITRI’s Biomedical Technology and Device Research Laboratories, pointed out that ITRI has worked with academia to develop innovative and advanced technology, helping Taiwan’s biomedical industry expand its share of the orthopedic device market. The R&D chain formed by ITRI involves the integration of 3D printing, material and biomedical technologies, all of which are patented technologies developed in Taiwan. Moreover, it takes only 8 to 12 hours to produce a 3D-printed bone material product, which not only saves hospital resources, but also provides patients with convenient and high-quality healthcare service, creating a win-win-win situation for the biomedical device industry, physicians, and patients.

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