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The first PEEK craniofacial test implants to be produced by the laser-sintering additive manufacturing process have been presented by EOS.

They were unveiled at the co-located Pacific Design and Manufacturing/MD and M (Medical Design and Manufacturing) West shows at the Anaheim Convention Center, California, in February 2011.

EOS’ collaborative projects coordinator, Joerg Lenz, delivered a previously unpublished technical paper on results from an EU-funded project called Custom-IMD.

Core project activities include the development of new biomaterials and rapid manufacturing technologies that will allow customised implants to be delivered to surgeons within 48 hours.

Entitled ‘Laser sintering of PEEK’, Lenz’s paper described plastic test implants fabricated at EOS’ headquarters in Germany using the Eosint P 800 system, the first laser-sintering system capable of operating at up to 385C for processing high-performance polymers.

High-temperature, biocompatible PEEK (polyaryletherketone) is increasingly used as an alternative to titanium for craniofacial implants, which are produced from CT-scan geometry for patients with head injuries or congenital deformities.

The paper documented the first validated in vivo (animal) results for laser-sintered PEEK.

Implants displayed on the EOS stand at the show included one filled with the polymer.

Lenz serves on a number of international standardisation organisations, including ASTM Committee F42 on additive manufacturing technologies.

PEEK-implant animal studies continue through the EU-funded project and human trials are planned for the future.

Scott Killian of Royal Engineered Composites, the first American user of the P 800, was on the EOS stand to discuss his company’s use of the machine and show sample geometries of PEEK medical and aerospace parts.

There was a working Formiga P 100 laser-sintering system, as well as metal parts produced with direct metal laser-sintering (DMLS).

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