Professor Chris Sutcliffe, of the University of Liverpool and Renishaw plc, UK, has been awarded the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering’s Silver Medal for his contributions to the development of bone-integrating metal AM implants.
Said to have been instrumental at every stage, Sutcliffe is recognised for developing the CAD software used to design the structure of porous implants, as well as the equipment necessary to produce materials that are both porous and strong enough to be used in production. He is also credited with devising a method to measure the biological performance of the implants which are now widely used in human and animal surgery.
By incorporating a porous structure which mimics bone tissue, these metal AM implants encourage bone in-growth (osseointegration), enabling rapid integration between the implant and the bone and providing better long-term performance and stability than traditional designs.
This technology has been successfully commercialised through a joint licensing agreement with Stryker Orthopaedics, which is said to have led to the launch of five families of implants for Stryker’s Joint Replacement and Spine franchises, helping to improve the lives of thousands of patients and resulting in an increased market share for the company. In 2016 Stryker established a dedicated factory in Cork, Republic of Ireland, to produce one of the largest quantities of implants made by a single facility globally.
On receiving the Silver Medal, he stated, “It is very exciting to see fundamental ideas being translated into products that have a real and tangible impact on patients. We have worked hard to make this a success and this award recognises the efforts of the many engineers and scientists who have turned this into reality. I am very proud to receive this on their behalf and on behalf of the wider Additive Manufacturing family.”
In 2008, Sutcliffe was appointed Research and Development Director for Renishaw’s Additive Manufacturing Products Division. He is also the founder and director of Fusion Implants, a University of Liverpool spin-out company which produces veterinary implants for the treatment of musculoskeletal disease and injury in animals.