Interbody fusion cage 3D printed with Kumovis r1

What it takes to 3D print medical devices with polymers

Additive manufacturing is gaining traction in healthcare. However, there is only one open filament system to 3D print medical devices.

After decades of material development and process optimization, today’s applications for additive manufacturing go far beyond research and rapid prototyping. Not least due to the consequences of the corona pandemic, more and more companies are trying to 3D print medical devices with polymers to advance their portfolio or keep the supply up and running.

Additive manufacturing systems have found their way into factories as well as production facilities and are ready to advance innovations faster. A study by Deloitte, for example, shows: Besides personalizing treatments using 3D data and 3D printed products, the shift from a product logic to a service approach or “generated value sharing” is one of the key drivers of 3D printing medical devices.

Many materials, one system

Since 2015, Kumovis has specialized in additive manufacturing for healthcare. Last year, Kumovis R1, the world’s first 3D printer with clean room integration, went into series production. This has made the combination of reproducible quality, mechanical strength, and careful processing with high-performance polymers a reality. 3D-printed implants as well as surgical guides and instruments are becoming more and more popular. Therefore, it is more important than ever to review and (re)evaluate future-oriented technologies and to assess the added value of additive manufacturing for your company.

The Kumovis R1 3D printer is an open-material system, which means that about ten polymers with a variety of properties can be processed with it. Three of the most prominent examples are polyether ether ketone, or PEEK for short, as well as PEKK and ULTEM®.

Medical and clean room technology are dependent on one another.

In addition, polysulfones such as PPSU and resorbable materials are increasingly in demand when it comes to medical 3D printing, for example to manufacture individualized implants. Kumovis is the leading manufacturer in terms of dedicated 3D printers for the medical community and the gentle processing of resorbable materials. This is demonstrated by the IV-loss values, among other things: Resorbable materials, for example, are only at about 9 percent processed with the R1.

Integrated clean room to compliantly 3D print medical devices

Medical and clean room technology often belong together and are mutually dependent. With the R1, Kumovis has developed a 3D printer whose build chamber corresponds to clean room class 7 according to ISO standard – to reach this, a HEPA filter system is used. So nothing stands in the way of the best implant quality from the 3D printer.

Sitting Kumovis employee testing a 3D-printed tensile
Tensile testing for 3D printing material in Kumovis research and development lab

Experience from the past years also shows that some parts have to be rethought and partly redesigned before they can be adapted for 3D printing medical devices. Modifications often allow for adding functionalities. Besides offering supply and commissioning of the R1 system, Kumovis cooperates with customers, so that they can benefit from the long-term experiences of a specialized team of engineers. In addition to the design, this offer also includes the selection of the optimal material for the respective medical device. In this way, medical 3D printing can not only be successfully introduced into existing productions, but the next development project can also be thought in 3D from the very beginning.

There are almost no limits to the freedom of design. We’re looking forward to receiving your inquiries and 3D printing medical devices together with your team as a long-term partner. Let us start today.

Advanced medical technology thanks to additive manufacturing

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