Holy titanium bones, Batman!

Earlier this week, the Guardian reported on engineer-turned-entrepreneur Dr. Siavash Mahdavi‘s combination of sintering and AI optimisation software. Potential applications, according to Mahdavi, include the rapid manufacture of ‘made-to-measure orthopedic implants’

“A surgeon will have the existing bone MRI scanned. This information is passed via a CAD programme to the 3D printer. By the time the patient gets to the operating theatre, we will have printed out a medical-grade titanium bone which is an identical match to the one being replaced.”

But can we be sure they will be as reliable as existing implants? “Better,” insists Mahdavi. “Firstly, they are much lighter as, like human bone, they are porous rather than solid. And having an internal mesh means you can fuse the implant to the bone, so the natural bone will grow into the holes and lock itself in. Because it’s a porous structure, you can x-ray the implant and see how the natural bone is melding with the implant. And, though these e-manufactured implants are only a quarter of the weight of solid ones, the laser makes a finer material than cast metal – so is it is actually stronger than the current technology.

From the look of their website, Mahdavi’s company – Complex Matters – is making the most of the technology, capitalising on its applications in a variety of projects.

One thought on “Holy titanium bones, Batman!”

  1. If I recall correctly, a couple of years ago rapid-prototyping industry consultant Terry Wohler posted a fascinating piece on using this technology in the Iraq conflict (his focus was on helping those caught in the crossfire). People tend to be surprised that we can fab with metal, but sintering is relatively well-established, and both electron beam and laser-melting techniques are making good progress towards high-quality solids, according to what I’ve read.

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