Medical & Dental

SLM Solutions partners with Camwell Medical to develop 3D printed surgical implants

German metal 3D printer manufacturer SLM Solutions has announced it has entered into a partnership with Canwell Medical, a medical device manufacturer based in China.

As part of their collaboration, Canwell Medical will use SLM 3D printers to develop and manufacture surgical implants. SLM Solutions will also provide technical and application assistance to Canwell Medical, as well as research and development support to further accelerate the company’s product certification and serial production.

“We feel proud to win the trust of Canwell Medical. SLM Solutions is the pioneer and leader of Selective Laser Melting technology and medical is an important application field. Our global experience accumulation and innovation will help us to further develop China’s medical field” explains Jerry Ma, General Manager of SLM Solutions Asia Pacific.

“The cooperation with innovative enterprises like Canwell Medical will effectively promote the two-way development of 3D printing technology in the breadth and depth of the medical industry.”

Acetabular cup implant in titanium alloy printed with 60-micron layer. Photo via SLM Solutions.
Acetabular cup implant in titanium alloy printed with 60-micron layer. Photo via SLM Solutions.

Medical additive manufacturing in China

Founded in 1994, Canwell Medical is an established designer, manufacturer, and supplier of orthopaedic implants and instruments in China. As well as acting as an instrument contract manufacturer for various orthopaedic companies in the US, the company also has its own brand product lines that cover traumatology, spinal fixation systems and surgical instruments. Its medical instrument sets sell in China, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia.

Canwell Medical is also invested in upgrading its orthopaedic implants and instruments with modern production processes. By introducing SLM Solutions’ 3D printing technology into its product development workflow, the company is aiming to facilitate the production of advanced medical devices, both for itself and the wider medical market in China. As such, launching 3D printed medical devices into this market space will bring development opportunities for other companies as well, according to Jerry Ma: 

 “Canwell’s slogan is ‘Technology For Health’; China’s medical device enterprises are very committed to the goal of improving their technological innovation ability and entrepreneurs have an open and positive attitude towards foreign cooperation. As a result, I am confident in the application of SLM Solutions in the medical field. We fully believe that through our close cooperation in many ways, it is not a distant dream for all major medical institutions in China to be able to use advanced domestic medical devices, and for every household to be able to use affordable domestic medical devices.”

Cobalt-chromium knee implant. Photo via SLM Solutions.
Cobalt-chromium knee implant. Photo via SLM Solutions.

SLM Solutions metal 3D printers

Headquartered in Luebeck, Germany, SLM Solutions is a specialist in developing and providing selective laser melting (SLM) additive manufacturing systems. Its 3D printers include the SLM 125, SLM 280, SLM 500 and SLM 800 systems. Its latest system, the SLM 800, was unveiled at Formnext 2017. It has a build area measuring 260 x 500 mm, with the capacity to build parts up to 800 mm tall. As such, it was used in a landmark application last year to create what was tipped to be the “world’s largest 3D printed rocket engine” for British spaceflight company Orbex.

Each of its 3D printers, according to SLM Solutions, are designed to ensure maximum safety during operation. For medical applications, SLM Solutions has provided two examples describing the different medical devices manufactured using its metal 3D printers, including acetabular cups and intervertebral fusion cages. The company has carried out various research and development initiatives on these two types of products, for example, it has developed continuous updates on 60-micron (µm) process parameters for titanium alloy to print the acetabular cup. In knee joint applications, SLM Solutions has also developed 60-micron (µm) process parameters for cobalt-chromium alloy as well.

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Featured image shows full load of acetabular cups printed by twin laser printed with 60-micron layer. Photo via SLM Solutions