Optomec, which makes metal additive manufacturing (AM) systems says that the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) is using the company’s Hybrid Controlled Atmosphere System to develop dissolvable magnesium components.

The components, that can be used as medical implants, have controlled time to dissolve, eliminating the need for second surgeries and reducing risks, costs and suffering for patients.

The Optomec LENS Hybrid Controlled Atmosphere System is the only commercially-available machine to provide hybrid manufacturing capabilities for reactive metals, according to Dr Michael Sealy, assistant professor, mechanical and materials engineering at UNL. ‘Our research is focused on advancing the performance and functionality of dissolvable devices,’ he said. ‘Using LENS, we are applying a hybrid additive manufacturing process to control the disintegration of medical fasteners and plates so they stay in-tact long enough to serve their purpose and then degrade away once the bone is healed.’

Currently, medical implants such as plates and screws are made of titanium or stainless steel, which are permanent structures.

Powdered metals such as magnesium, titanium and other reactive materials must be processed in a controlled atmosphere environment where oxygen and moisture impurities are maintained below 10 parts per million. Dr Sealy used the Optomec LENS 3D Hybrid Controlled Atmosphere System to process these materials so that the strength and integrity of a degradable implant can be maintained long enough for it to do its job.

This story is reprinted from material from Optomec, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.