Fraunhofer researchers have developed a particulary flexible additive manufacturing method that allows them to produce bone implants, dentures, surgical tools, or microreactors in almost any conceivable design. At the Medtec medical technology tradeshow in Stuttgart, the scientists from Dresden will show their research results.
The small pharmaceutical plant next to the patient’s bed is no bigger than a two euro coin. With wires and channels that are just a few hundred micrometers wide, it constantly mixes various drugs – painkillers, blood thinners, and antibiotics – and fine-tunes them to the patient’s current health condition. A futuristic scene of modern microreaction technology that doesn’t yet exist in hospitals. The Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden is working on changing that in the near future.
Processing different materials at the same time
The researchers from Dresden are focusing on suspension-based additive manufacturing methods and combinations of them with other manufacturing techniques to create not only microreactors, but also bone implants, dentures, and surgical tools. At Medtec in Stuttgart from April 12-14, they will be presenting a technological solution for creating medical components in almost every conceivable design using additive manufacturing methods.“We have no limitations in terms of type or color of material for the target components. This allows us to process ceramics, glass, plastic, or even metal using thermoplastic 3D printing. One more advantage is that several different materials can be produced at the same time,” says Dr. Tassilo Moritz from Fraunhofer IKTS’s “Materials and Processes” business division. In the lab, the scientists have already successfully made components out of high-performance ceramics and hard metals. Now they are looking for partners to put their technology to real-world use.