The Bavarian Research Foundation (Bayerische Forschungsstiftung), Germany, has pledged €220,000 toward a research project into the development of heart stents using metal Additive Manufacturing. Led by Germany’s OTH Regensburg, University Hospital Regensburg and FIT Production GmbH, the project is part of ongoing global efforts to combat cardiovascular diseases which, according to the World Health Organisation, are the most frequent cause of death worldwide.
A stent is a wire mesh tube which is inserted into a coronary artery to widen it, allowing better blood flow and preventing cardiac failure. This operation is usually carried out when an artery has been narrowed by a build-up of plaque (fatty deposits). However, the insertion of a stent into a blood vessel can cause injury by ‘stretching’ the arterial walls.
In addition, most traditionally manufactured stents come in a range of ‘off the shelf’ sizes, which may not correctly fit every patient’s needs. When an ill-fitting stent moves in an artery, it may become blocked, requiring surgical intervention to either reopen or bypass.
The NewGen-Stent project is developing metal additively manufactured stents with a cylindrical geometric structure which are capable of targeted expansion to allow controlled fit and vessel widening, thereby minimising the risk of cardiovascular injury.
FIT AG is one of the world’s most experienced companies in the development and production of AM components, thanks in large part to its early involvement in rapid prototyping. The company now specialises in high volume series production and offers a range of metal AM medical technologies, as well as offering what it says is the largest EN 9100-certified metal AM production capacity in the world.
Metal Additive Manufacturing magazine reported on ‘FIT AG: Laying the foundations for high-volume metal Additive Manufacturing’ in Autumn 2016 (Vol. 2 No. 3). To learn more about the company and its philosophy, download the magazine for free now.