Healthcare is one of the most challenging fields for 3D printing. This makes it all the more important to know the filaments approved for it. In addition to metals, high-performance polymers are the preferred materials for 3D printing in medicine.
According to a new study from the European Patent Office, more patent applications were filed for 3D printing with polymers than for all other groups of materials combined between 2010 and 2018. Let’s take a closer look at the most promising ones regarding medical production.
Best suited polymers for medical 3D printing
To identify suitable polymers for 3D printing in medicine, they must be biocompatible, among other things. In addition, sterility, good mechanical properties and chemical resistance are key. These are the top filaments for 3D printing medical devices with polymers:
- PEEK – Polyetheretherketone, or PEEK for short, is a high-performance polymer that has been used in medical applications for years. With the Kumovis R1 3D printer, you can process two types of PEEK filaments: Implant-grade material for long-term applications and medical-grade material for short-term applications such as surgical instruments.
- PEKK – Polyetherketoneketone is a high-performance polymer in which one of the PEEK and ether bonds is replaced by a stiffer ketone group. The resulting PEKK is one of the newer medical-grade materials available for 3D printing. In its amorphous state, it offers both high ductility and mechanical strength.
- RESOMER® – The material portfolio called RESOMER® consists of semi-crystalline and amorphous biodegradable polymers with degradation times from less than six months to more than three years. Four different types are currently available as filaments for 3D printing in medicine.
- PPSU – Polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) is an amorphous polymer that offers, among other things, high impact strength. Like PEEK, PPSU is available in highest quality for long-term applications (e.g. implantable medical devices) and in medical-grade quality for short-term applications. For 3D printing medical instruments, Kumovis offers two types of PPSU. The blue-colored materials are approved for use on the body over a period of up to 24 hours. One PPSU type is mixed with barium sulfate to make it visible in medical imaging processes. PPSU is sterilizable and therefore suitable for reprocessable medical instruments.
Fused layer manufacturing for medtech
In order to 3D print implantable as well as resorbable medical devices safely and sustainably, it is essential to select the right material – and to process it in a reproducible way. In addition, the process needs to meet both the regulatory and individual requirements of the respective application.
As a reliable partner for medical technology, Kumovis has specialized in the additive manufacturing category of fused layer manufacturing with high-performance materials such as PEEK, PEKK, PPSU and PEI since 2017. The open filament system Kumovis R1 allows for creating a flexible and space-saving platform. Together in partnership, we will meet your 3D printing challenges.