An innovative start-to-finish process for manufacturing titanium tibial trays for surgical knee implants was unveiled at this year's IMTS exhibition in Chicago (10th to 15th September 2012) on the stand of machine tool firm, GF AgieCharmilles. The company is co-operating with additive manufacturing machine builder, EOS, in this venture.
The process starts with an FEA/CAD design, developed using WITHIN medical software, of a lightweight yet strong tibial tray. The part's complex geometry combines variable pore sizes on one side to promote osseointegration with a smooth surface on the other to support the loads on the tibia.
An EOSINT M 280 direct metal laser-sintering system automatically builds the component from titanium powder, layer by layer, to produce 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.
"This blend of technologies goes far beyond what most other product developers are presently doing," said Gisbert Ledvon, director of business development at GF AgieCharmilles in the US. "The result is a cutting-edge turnkey manufacturing system that operates with very little human intervention and a minimum of scrap material."
Andrew Snow, regional sales director, EOS of North America, commented, "While the demonstration at IMTS was of a medical component, this type of process chain is applicable to practically any industry.
"A look around the stand allowed visitors to see a range of parts for the aerospace, automotive, tooling with conformal cooling, consumer and other sectors."
Dr Siavash Mahdavi, CEO of WITHIN, added, "As a manufacturing process, laser-sintering affords designers so much freedom that it is sometimes difficult to know where to begin.
"Our software and the partnership between EOS and GF AgieCharmilles point the way to others who wish to explore the benefits that design-driven, additive manufacturing can bring."
EOS Electro Optical Systems Ltd,
The Innovation Centre, Warwick Technology Park,
Gallows Hill, Warwick, CV34 6UW.
Tel: 01926 623107. Fax: 01926 623108.
Web site: www.eos.info
Contact: Stuart Jackson, Regional Manager, UK & Eire.
THE RIGHT IMAGE Ltd
PO Box 42, Twickenham, TW1 1BQ
Tel: 020 8891 0603
Contact: Chris Wright
Web site: www.therightimage.net