In a cooperative venture with additive manufacturing specialist EOS (Krailling, Germany), GF AgieCharmilles (Meyrin, Switzerland) unveiled a start-to-finish process for manufacturing titanium tibial trays for surgical knee implants at the recent IMTS exhibition in Chicago. The blend of technologies has resulted in a turnkey manufacturing system that operates with little human intervention and produces minimal scrap material, according to Gisbert Ledvon, Business Development Director for GF AgieCharmilles in the United States. It surpasses the efforts of other product developers working in this domain, he adds.
Starting with an FEA/CAD design, developed using WITHIN medical software, of a lightweight yet strong tibial tray, the component is automatically built from titanium powder using an EOSINT M 280 direct metal laser-sintering system. The part is produced layer by layer to form a near-net-shape piece. It then undergoes conventional machining, first on a Mikron HPM 450U 5-axis mill and then on a CUT 20P wire EDM machine, both from GF AgieCharmilles.
The part’s complex geometry combines variable pore sizes on one side to promote osseointegration with a smooth surface on the other side to support loads on the tibia.