AM Medical Days, Formnext, COMPAMED 2021: Fresh impetus for medical device innovation

Three visitors to the Kumovis booth at the AM Medical Days conference discuss the company's medical device innovations with staff, all wearing mouth-to-nose coverings
Kumovis enables manufacturers to, among other things, 3D print the medical devices of tomorrow (Photo credit: AM Medical Days)
Recent industry events show 3D printing is poised to drive medical device innovation toward the individual needs of physicians and, ultimately, patients

This year, Germany hosted three of the world’s most exciting events when it comes to accelerating additive manufacturing and medical device innovation. We are talking about the MEDICA and COMPAMED twin fairs, Formnext, as well as AM Medical Days, the new decision-makers and experts conference on all things medical 3D printing in Berlin. Kumovis was one of the exhibiting companies at all three events, filling programs with insights into its new end-to-end workflow for additive manufacturing in the healthcare sector.

With this dedicated medical solution, Kumovis enables implants and instruments made of high-performance polymers like PEEK, PEKK and PPSU to be manufactured more efficiently than with conventional processes. The first field of application for the new workflow is manufacturing patient-specific implants for cranioplasty, more will follow.

AM Medical Days: Medtech future today

Before Kumovis co-CEO Stefan Leonhardt presented the workflow in detail to a large audience of professionals at AM Medical Days, he had said, referring to the conference, “Anyone who is professionally involved with 3D-printed medical devices or the future in the operating room shouldn’t miss this event.” For those who were unable to attend, Kumovis offers an in-depth look at the end-to-end workflow here.

3D-printed implants made of PEEK, PEKK and PPSU for cranioplasty lie on a table and white cloth, behind them are posters on which the features of the Kumovis R1 3D printer are written
The end-to-end workflow for 3D printing patient-specific implants was Kumovis' highlight at 2021 trade fairs

Its users can manufacture products more cost-effectively. Furthermore, Kumovis supports them on regulatory pathways, and thus helps bring medical device innovations to market faster. “As a founding partner of AM Medical Days, Kumovis is proud to be able to make another contribution to the future of 3D printing in medicine today,” added Stefan Leonhardt who spoke, among other things, about the 3D printing of implants and point-of-care applications at the conference.

During the keynotes and panels at AM Medical Days 2021, international medical 3D printing experts answered the following questions about the current state of 3D-printed implants in detail: Which applications are possible today, which are still in the development phase? And how can medical device manufacturers implement them using 3D printing under more difficult market conditions? Insights from AM Medical Days in Berlin can also be found on Kumovis’ LinkedIn.

Formnext: Medical device innovation live

Kumovis exhibited its new developments at Formnext in Frankfurt am Main too. The trade show counted approximately 18,000 attendees from 76 nations this year, more than expected. And for those who couldn’t make it to Formnext in person, Formnext Digital Days eased the necessary burden of travel restrictions. The online event created the chance to discuss trending topics like on-demand small batch production, decentralization and secure process chains in a virtual way.

What’s more, the demand for application-specific developments in additive manufacturing seems to keep growing in 2021 and beyond, as comments like this by 3DPrint.com Executive Editor Joris Peels suggest: “Some of these systems may survive, but I’m wondering what they are made for exactly? […] I think that a lot of these firms could benefit enormously from working with clients and materials companies more closely to develop more of a fit with applications and needs.”

The Kumovis R1, a filament-based 3D printing system built for medical production, was introduced by Kumovis two years ago. Visitors to this year’s Formnext saw the system in action at a public event for the first time since 2019. German industry magazine “MaschinenMarkt” named the machine a “must-see” at Formnext. What’s more, PEEK cranial implants 3D printed at the booth were Kumovis’ highlights along with PPSU instruments for spinal fusion surgery. As at the other events in November, visitors at Formnext learned about the new end-to-end workflow – from DICOM processing, 3D printing and post-processing to the approval of a medical device.

COMPAMED: Regulation in focus

While Formnext 2021 proved 3D printing ready for industrial-grade products, COMPAMED was building up momentum for medical device innovation regarding applications in surgery, new medical-grade materials and smart sensors in Duesseldorf. Approximately 46,000 attendees from 150 countries took part in the on-site event.

What is the Kumovis end-to-end workflow all about?

On the one hand, the new end-to-end workflow includes the provision of the Kumovis R1 3D printer and software; on the other hand, Kumovis provides application-specific processes and regulatory data such as machine qualification, as well as biological and mechanical validation. With this complete package, medical device manufacturers can save costs, make added-value products and receive regulatory support in MDR and FDA markets.

It was good to see this many important exhibitors in medical technology in one place again at COMPAMED and MEDICA. Hygiene measures such as strict entrance control and mandatory masks throughout worked, and the industry seemed to be receptive to face-to-face meetings again. One of the show’s key topics was medical device regulation.

Kumovis addressed this in the “COMPAMED Suppliers Forum” and gave a presentation under the title “Implants and instruments individualized or mass-produced from high-performance polymers: Design, 3D printing and approval.” Medtech trade medium “DeviceMed” reports a “full house” in compliance with the common rules of distance.

3D printing is ready to tackle medtech issues

Medical device companies and hospitals achieve the familiar mechanical properties from conventional manufacturing when 3D printing products with Kumovis and high-performance polymers. Like visitors to COMPAMED, those at AM Medical Days and Formnext could get their hands on 3D-printed implants and instruments, check the parts’ quality for themselves and take a peek into the future of medical devices at the Kumovis booth.

Visitors to the Kumovis booth were interested in the new end-to-end workflow and asked Kumovis staff about it at Formnext 2021
At Formnext, visitors to the Kumovis booth discussed and got their hands on 3D-printed implants

It is fair to say that 3D printing may not be suitable for all medical fields, but still the applications currently developed are about to make a difference. Point-of-care 3D printing, for example, is a reality, and medical innovation teams are working on new implant designs that will benefit both patient and surgeon.

Interdisciplinary partnerships between materials scientists, engineers and medical staff are transforming the future of healthcare. When are you going to start 3D printing?