Jan 9, 2019 | By Cameron
One of the largest business sectors drawn to metal 3D printing is the orthopaedic and implant segment of surgical medicine. Betatype, a London-based additive manufacturing firm, recently released a case study that looked at productivity gains realized at an orthopaedic office by using Betatype’s AM workflow.
Betatype employs a laser powder bed fusion (PBF) 3D printer that’s capable of producing solid and porous geometries in the same part. The mesh-like structures are necessary to emulate the strength, flexibility, and texture of bone, but generating and processing those incredibly complex geometries is computationally intensive. So intensive, in fact, that Betatype developed their own data processing technology called Engine. Engine has the equivalent processing power of 640 virtual computers with nearly 5 terabytes of RAM, allowing it to generate build files as large as 148 gigabytes. Additionally, their algorithms reduce the file sizes of complex geometries by up to 96%; a spinal cage STL model that was 235 megabytes was only 8 megabytes in the nTopology LTCX format.
On the hardware side, using galvo-driven path optimization and improved laser firing drivers, Betatype reduces build times by up to 40%. Combining as many parts as possible into a single print is another way their system increases efficiency, so a lattice stacking structure was implemented into their file preparation suite. Over 800 posterior lumbar cages were able to be 3D printed in one go using this method, greatly reducing production time and cost.
Betatype is demonstrating how metal 3D printing and supercomputing enables serial production of orthopaedic-grade implants that mimic the porosity of bones.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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