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Transplant Jaw made using Additive Layer Manufacturing

Transplant Jaw made using Additive Layer Manufacturing

Layerwise build titanium jaw

Layerwise, a specialised metal-parts manufacturer based in Belgium has built a one-of-a-kind lower jaw implant. The implant, which was fitted to an 83-year old woman with a chronic bone infection, was made out of titanium powder. A 3D printer used a laser to heat and fuse the titanium powder, one layer at a time.

The implant is complex as it involves articulating joints, cavities to promote muscular attachment and grooves to direct the regrowth of nerves and veins.

Ruben Wauthle, Layerwise’s Medical Applications Engineer said: “Once we received the 3D digital design, the part was split up automatically into 2D layers and then we sent those cross sections to the printing machine. It used a laser beam to melt successive thin layers of titanium powder together to build the part. This was repeated with each cross section melted to the previous layer. It took 33 layers to build 1mm of height, so you can imagine there were many thousand layers necessary to build this jawbone."

"The new treatment is a world premiere because it concerns the first patient-specific implant in replacement of the entire lower jaw."

He also added, “You can build parts that you can't create using any other technique. For example you can print porous titanium structures which allow bone in-growth and allow a better fixation of the implant, giving it a longer lifetime."

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