The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) has partnered with Chinese 3D printers manufacturer INTAMSYS to launch a 3D printed orthopaedics research initiative.
Set to be led by the university’s orthopaedic surgery department research division EDGE Labs, the team will work towards the development of medical applications for high-temperature polyether ether ketone (PEEK) 3D printing.
The researchers will primarily focus on devising low-cost, high-tech solutions for pre-surgical planning and creation of prototypes for customised orthopaedic implants.
INTAMSYS CEO Charles Han said: “We are very pleased to work with the UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery to advance PEEK applications in medicine, as well as promoting health care cost savings in the field of orthopaedics.
“Collaborating with surgeons to deliver the best possible patient outcomes is what drives our company.”
PEEK is used in additive manufacturing for metal-replacement, functional prototyping and end-use parts across medical, dental, research, oil and gas, automotive and aerospace sectors.
The engineering thermoplastic is said to feature high chemical resistance, ultraviolet radiation retardancy, heat release, good mechanical properties at high temperatures and low toxicity.
UCSF musculoskeletal researcher and orthopaedic surgeon Alexis Dang said: “This level of industrial grade printing has not been available at this price point.
“We are interested in being able to prototype customised implants using high-temperature materials such as PEEK.”
The university’s Orthopaedic Surgery department delivers quality patient care, carries out clinical, basic science and translational research, and provides surgical training.