Medical applications for 3D printing have been rapidly expanding over the last number of years and it is widely accepted that medical uses of 3D printing have revolutionised the healthcare industry.
Leading medical device companies have been coming to LPE for over 30 years to help them with their development of innovative medical devices. Our ISO 13485 quality standard for the production of medical appliances highlights our commitment to our customers in the medical and healthcare industry.
We offer a complete range of rapid prototyping technologies and medically approved materials to ensure that we can meet all requirements of our medical device customers. Over the years, LPE has helped our customers in the medical industry with a wide range of applications, allowing them to access the benefits that additive manufacturing technologies can bring to their product development cycle from early stage concept models, to rapid prototyping right through to low volume production.
Why do medical companies use rapid prototyping for their applications?
- Flexibility in the creation of complex designs that are not possible using other techniques
- Eliminates part assembly by producing the required product or component in a single piece rather than several parts
- Reduces lead-time and time to market: Medical device prototyping speeds up the manufacturing process, making it ideal for mass customisation
- Cost-Effectiveness: Rapid prototyping allows for lower labour and material costs as well as lowered supply chain and production costs
- Reduction in material waste and energy: There is a significant reduction in waste materials as additive manufacturing adds material layer by layer as required, in turn reducing manufacturing and assembly to one or two steps
- 3D-printed anatomical models for training and surgical planning
- Non implant medical devices that require biocompatibility, sterilisation and/or thermal resistance
- Medical field trials
- Surgical instruments (handles and grips), drill guides, tools and splints
- Drug contact devices such as inhalers and syringes
- Highly detailed precision mould tools
- Visualisation and fluid flow models
Why choose LPE for medical 3D printing?
- ISO 13485 certified – we are committed to the highest quality standards
- Wide range of medical grade materials, some of which offer biocompatibility
- LPE can offer CoCs, first article inspection reports and material traceability if requested
- Cost effective option for low volume production parts – designs can be tested before investment in tools.
- Speed of turnaround – large machine capacity ensures we can meet tight lead times allowing our customers to get products to market quickly
- Experienced team of modelmakers- complex finishing and assembly can be completed in-house which allows us to deliver finished parts to our customers in a usable state.
- Experience of working with medical designers for over 30 years – we can support you in designing for rapid prototyping.
Best suited materials and processes for medical device prototypes
Stereolithography (SLA) - Watershed XC 11122
Applications include: Anatomical models, medical devices, field trials.
WaterShed® XC 11122 is a low viscosity liquid photopolymer that produces strong, tough, water-resistant, ABS-like properties with good temperature resistance. Specially formulated to include outstanding water resistance and high dimensional stability.
WaterShed® XC 11122 is the clear solution for designers looking for ABS and PBT-like properties for stereolithography technology. Its near-colourless appearance is like that of clear engineered plastic. This material is cleared for use for biomedical and on skin contact applications at the prototype/development stage. It is also suitable for prototyping clear medical device housings and fluid flow analysis as well as dental product applications.
Laser Prototypes Europe is ISO13485 approved to supply models to this standard.
Digital Light Processing (DLP) - Figure 4 MED-AMB 10
Applications include: Surgical drill guides and splints. Visualisation and fluid flow models. Medical devices that require biocompatibility, sterilisation and/or thermal resistance.
A rigid amber material for applications requiring biocompatibility, translucency and/or thermal resistance. It provides parts with fine features, that can be sterilised and tested at temperatures over 100 °C.
This material is capable of meeting ISO 10993-5 & 10 standards for biocompatibility. The crisp feature detail offers excellent visualisation for parts requiring evaluation of internal features and their performance.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) - Nylon (PA 2200)
Applications include: Prosthetic limbs, medical trials.
Laser sintered parts made from PA 2200 have excellent material properties with high strength and rigidity, good chemical resistance and finishing possibilities. It is a tough, functional material with high temperature resistance, designed for strong end user parts. Due to its excellent mechanical properties, users can substitute injection moulding for simplified, high-spec 3D printing. Its biocompatibility under EN ISO 10993-1 and USP/level VI/121°C means that it is medically approved for on skin applications.
Vacuum Casting - SORTA-Clear 18
Applications include: Medical devices, rubber seals, prosthetics and other skin contact applications.
Sorta-Clear Series rubbers are near-clear translucent silicone rubbers. Commonly used to make moulds, the Sorta-clear 18 is certified food safe and skin safe, so can be used to create medical devices for on skin applications as well as seals and prosthetics.
Sorta-Clear 18 offers high transparency with good chemical and heat resistance. With negligible shrinkage, it also features high tensile and tear strength, so is an ideal solution to produce functional medical components for both prototype and end use requirements.
Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) - Titanium Ti64 Eli Grade 23
Applications include: Orthopaedic implants, orthopaedic pins and screws, ligature clips, surgical staples, springs, orthodontic appliances, bone and joint replacement, dental root implants, surgical clips and cryogenic vessels.
This is one of the more commonly used titanium alloys, as it is corrosion-resistant, high strength, tough and lightweight. Usually referred to as Ti 6Al-4V, ELI (Extra Low Interstitial) grade it has lower impurity limits, especially oxygen and iron.
This material is regularly used in medical technology because of its good biocompatibility, excellent fracture toughness and crack propagation behaviour. Even maintaining good fracture toughness at low temperatures. These properties, as well as low elastic modules and good fatigue strength are due to the alloys low ELI.
Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) - Stainless steel (CL20ES and CL92PH)
Applications include: Highly detailed precision mould tools, medical implants, surgical tools
Metal materials are at the first step toward high-quality results, producing very tough heat resistant components. Parts can be manufactured in high resolution facilitating the production of very fine details.
CL20ES is an austenitic stainless steel for the production of functional parts or components for pre-production moulds. This material is used for manufacturing acid and corrosion-resistant parts. CL92 PH is a precipitation hardening stainless steel and can be used for manufacturing functional components or medical instruments.
Interested in finding out more about the materials we offer?