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Two South African Cancer Patients Receive 3D Printed Titanium Jaw Implants 71

Posted by timothy
from the ok-but-they-did-already-need-them dept.
jigmypig (3675225) writes "Two patients in South Africa that have had their lives and more specifically their jaws severely affected by cancer, have just received 3D printed jaw implants. The jaws were 3D printed using a laser sintering process that melts powdered titanium, one layer at a time. The process saves a ton of money, and unlike traditional manufacturing of titanium jaws, it doesn't waste any materials. Traditional manufacturing wastes up to 80% of the titanium block used in the process, whereas with 3D printing there is little to no waste at all. This new process also allows for a fully customizable solution. The models are drawn up in CAD software, and then printed out to precisely fit the patient."
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Two South African Cancer Patients Receive 3D Printed Titanium Jaw Implants

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  • by Henriok (6762) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @07:58PM (#47540603)
    You had me at "3D Printed Titanium Jaw Implants". Awesome!
    • Re:You had me at (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ozmanjusri (601766) <[aussie_bob] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Saturday July 26, 2014 @10:41PM (#47541069) Journal

      You had me at "3D Printed Titanium Jaw Implants". Awesome!

      It's cool, but not really news.

      I was doing some work in Royal Perth Hospital sometime around 2008, and saw a small, beautifully detailed metal skull on one of the managers' desks. I asked him about it and was told he'd taken an MRI of his own skull and had it printed quarter-sized in sintered titanium. It was the best paperweight I've ever seen.

      Cool factor aside, they've been scanning patients' actual bones, optimising them in software and printing titanium replacements (mostly hip joints) there for almost a decade now. There's even a few commercial madical 3d printing companies around AU (Anatomics is one).

      It's great that SA is making jaws for people now though.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rogoshen1 (2922505)

        now if only they could get around to that pesky aids problem

    • Re:You had me at (Score:4, Interesting)

      by flyneye (84093) on Sunday July 27, 2014 @11:28AM (#47543223) Homepage

      They lost me at Titanium Jaw Implants. Titanium has a nasty tendency to foster bacterial growth in spite of its good attributes.
      Gimme a high density plastic any day.
      No I don't care about any sentences beginning with " Research shows..." or " Records prove", as they represent the OPINIONS of those promoting the problem.
      Like asking a car salesman, what the best car on the lot is....

  • by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @08:02PM (#47540615)

    No, actually, I'm fortunate enough not to have that option. Still, it's good to see this happening for the people who do.

  • Waste (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm sure the "waste" is recycled. While I'm happy for the advancement I think people stretch a bit too much to make something seem more revolutionary than it is. That doesn't benefit anyone.

    • Yes, it is. When machining something out of titanium, or any other expensive metal for that matter, all the shavings are saved to be melted down again. This is both cheap and easy to do, and is how it has been done for a long time.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Cast is bad enough, but sintering is awful for strength. Horrible.

    If it's FINE enough it should be, er.. fine. I wonder what the fail test is like for this being an orthopedic application, or is that even considered beyond "it's metal"?

    • It has to be as durable as the bone it is fitted into. Titanium is used in prosthetics because it is the most biocompatible metal, not so much for it's hardness.

    • by EvolutionInAction (2623513) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @10:34PM (#47541049)

      If I remember this correctly, sintering is actually one of the favoured manufacturing methods for implants. Something about how you can make the material surfaces porous enough for tissue to hold on to, which traditional machining simply cannot match.

      I've no doubt that sintered parts have undergone failure testing and found acceptable. Do you know the level of regulation for a medical implant? It's insane.

    • It's porous but that actually helps with incorporation into the body. I'm a bit out of touch now but in 1999 experiments with implanting porous titanium implants treated in caustic soda into mice resulted in very strong metal to bone connections after only a few weeks.
      So while it's horrible strength compared with solid titanium outside the body it's very likely to be higher strength inside the body than a solid implant.
      Besides, bone is not very strong in comparison to titanium - which actually has been a p
    • by Assmasher (456699)

      I was seriously wondering that myself since titanium is difficult to deal with despite the fact that aerospace engineers would like to use it for a large number of parts, so I did a quick Google and I found this:

      "Tests by EOS customers have compared the properties of laser-sintered titanium parts to those of cast or wrought titanium parts, and found that the DMLS parts can have significantly better mechanical properties. Typically, titanium parts made with DMLS have an ultimate tensile strength of 1,200Mpa + 30Mpa (175ksi + 4ksi), comparable to or stronger than conventionally manufactured titanium components"

      Now, that should be taken with a grain of salt since it was provided by a company that does Direct Metal Laser Sintering, but it certainly sounds damn good.

      Just be careful, you have to use low oxygen contents in the powder itself and argon to work in since it is HIGHLY reactive in its molten state.

      I

  • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @08:17PM (#47540655)
    They wasted a very valuable opportunity here. The jaws do not have razor sharp jagged teeth nor are either of the recipients over 7 feet tall.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Furthermore, the recipients don't live in a hurricane prone area.

    • by plover (150551)

      You can still rejoice. One of the patients was Baron Werner Ünderbheit. [venturefans.org]

    • Indeed. They've even forgot to attach the freakin' lasers to the freakin jaw.
    • They wasted a very valuable opportunity here. The jaws do not have razor sharp jagged teeth nor are either of the recipients over 7 feet tall.

      Floating in space makes height somewhat irrelevant. Ability to chew through cables is obviously an advantage, though.

  • "Waste" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mateorabi (108522) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @08:18PM (#47540659) Homepage
    While I find the 3d printing damn cool, the editorializing about the waste struck me as an odd comment for subby to make. I'm guessing that a lot of powder gets left over by this new process just as milling from a solid block leaves shavings. But those should be just as easily melted down and recycled in the next job, so not really wasted. (And if they are thrown away, it means that reusing them just isn't economical, so the 'waste' isn't that valuable anyway.)

    I think the better argument where 3D wins is the ability to get arbitrary shapes that could be impossible to make with traditional machining or casting.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It might not be economical to recycle shavings for a variety of reasons: made in a shop that processes too many things to keep them separate, contaminated too much with cutting fluids, the recycling process doesn't work well with shavings (some metal melting processes are more expensive with a lot of thing pieces that can oxidize easily while heating up to the melting point), not worth the transport costs or handling for small batches, etc. Still probably cheaper to have not had to refine that metal in the

  • I was born with a tiny jaw and I could not open my mouth wide. Surgeries, using a bones from my right hip into my mouth to extend the jaw bones, didn't help much to make them bigger.

    • Hello,

      It might help. You could probably start by contacting the reporter who wrote the article, or the hospitals at which the surgeries were performed to ask for more information.

      Regards,

      Aryeh Goretsky

  • When they say 3D printed do they mean a metal mill, or can we 3D print with any random material now? And if so, why not use the far more tried tested, and better alternative milling?
    • Re:Mill? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by EmperorArthur (1113223) on Saturday July 26, 2014 @08:37PM (#47540719)

      When they say 3D printed do they mean a metal mill, or can we 3D print with any random material now?
      And if so, why not use the far more tried tested, and better alternative milling?

      Nope, it's "laser sintering." They take metal powder and fuse it together one layer at a time. You put a layer of metal powder down, the laser fuses it together, then you put another layer of powder over it. Repeat until done.

      The nice thing is all the waste powder can be reused without having to melt it down, so there's almost no waste. The other thing is you can print shapes that are really hard to mill. No more ridiculously complex 6 axes milling machines that the US treats like munitions. Just Google ITER sometime to see the craziness.

      • by Trepidity (597)

        The nice thing is all the waste powder can be reused without having to melt it down, so there's almost no waste.

        How big of an advantage is that, though? Melting down metal to reuse it is really easy, much easier than with other materials like glass or plastics. Especially in the case where you control the environment and can be assured of its purity, vs. collecting scrap metal or something (but even collecting scrap metal is profitable).

        • The nice thing is all the waste powder can be reused without having to melt it down, so there's almost no waste.

          How big of an advantage is that, though? Melting down metal to reuse it is really easy, much easier than with other materials like glass or plastics. Especially in the case where you control the environment and can be assured of its purity, vs. collecting scrap metal or something (but even collecting scrap metal is profitable).

          Well, it's Titanium, so it's probably quite a pain. Titanium has an ignition temperature that's lower than its melting point so you have to work with it in an inert atmosphere, and apparently it's still a pain even then. Given that I'll bet titanium scrap isn't worth a quarter of its value when in block form.

          The article says "each surgery cost just 20% of what a traditional jaw implant surgery would have cost." It doesn't say how much of that was due to not having to recycle 80% of the material and how m

        • I would assume it means you need to have less stock on hand to do any particular job. Less money tied up in material, less money wasted because you aren't selling off the scrap for less than you paid for it.
        • by dbIII (701233)

          How big of an advantage is that, though? Melting down metal to reuse it is really easy

          Not with titanium. It's a bastard of a thing to work with since it oxidises easily enough that the powder makes far too good an explosive for it to be permissable to ship it by air.

    • by dbIII (701233)

      When they say 3D printed do they mean a metal mill

      It almost always means an additive instead of a subtractive process. Milling cuts things away and is subtractive. 3D printing sticks things together so is additive.

      or can we 3D print with any random material now

      Yes so long as you keep in mind that 3D printing describes a wide range of methods instead of a single one. In this case it's sintering metal powder one layer at a time with a laser. While expensive it's got some things going for it:
      It's easier to

  • Baron Ünderbheit?

  • I just saw something in today's FTL newsfeed. I didn't catch all of it, but it said something like "Have you or a family member been implanted with a 3-D printed Titanium jaw? If so, you may be owed compensation! Vid our office now!"
  • would have liked to have one I'd guess.

  • by rossdee (243626)

    is Richard Keil still alive?

    or is it spelt Kiel

  • unlike traditional manufacturing of titanium jaws, it doesn't waste any materials. Traditional manufacturing wastes up to 80% of the titanium block used in the process...

    Um... bullshit?
    There is no waste in milling. You just sell the turnings back to smelter. Or smelt them yourself if you have the equipment.

    that aside... sintering is awesome. Growing up I used to get to visit the company my father worked for and one of their main product lines were all sintered parts. You lay down powdered metal and then bake it to melt the powder together. They've been doing that for decades. The new innovation is being able to sinter on the fly with lasers instead of an oven.

    • Sadly while it would be "bullshit" with stainless steel it's not so simple with titanium. Recovering metal from the shavings is not as simple as just throwing them in a pot and warming it up, even if you do it in an inert atmosphere.
      The entire reason why titanium is expensive despite being made from very plentiful sand is because it's bloody hard to reduce the oxide and those shavings are covered with it.
      That very hard to move oxide is why it's so useful in medical applications but it makes it a difficult
      • It is not only handling/manufacturing of Titan that is difficult.
        Deposited worthwhile of exploiting are RARE. Yes, in total our planet is rich on Titanium ... it is the 9th abundant element on earth ...
        Reusing shavings from milling is certainly 10 if not 100 times more easy than refining Titanium from raw 'ores'.

        • by dbIII (701233)
          It's still not easy and is still very expensive for the reasons given above. There may be less oxide in the shavings than in rutile or titanium dioxide but you still have to get rid of it before it can be melted down - and with a high melting point plus a need to keep oxygen off it's not that cheap to melt the stuff either. Reducing waste with titanium (or titanium alloys) has more of a cost benefit than just about any other non-radioactive metal since the reprocessing cost is high.

          refining Titanium from

  • So the article wants to tell us that in traditional milling they have to mill away 80% of the original block?
    And then they used to throw it away as 'waste'?
    Somehow I doubt that.

  • Now that would be cool.

    Can't believe I'm the first one to comment about adamantium replacement bones.

    Once adamantium is set, it can't be broken, so an additive printing system like 3D printing would be perfect for making adamantium parts.

  • You wrote a book and can't tell affect from effect?

Some people have a great ambition: to build something that will last, at least until they've finished building it.

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