Veterinary orthopaedic company Osteogen, Bath, UK, has partnered with French service bureau 3D Medical to produce its metal additively manufactured implants for animals. Osteogen was introduced to 3D Medical via Link3D’s On Demand™, a secure platform which enables its users to search and connect with a global network of Additive Manufacturing solutions providers.
Osteogen develops articular implants of various sizes for different breeds of dog. Paul Smirthwaite, Osteogen’s CEO, has worked in the orthopaedic industry for twenty years and reports that he has recently implemented additively manufactured implants into his practice, including AM humeral trials and ulnar drill guides.
In a report by Link3D, Smirthwaite explained the ethical difficulties which veterinary implant providers can encounter when looking to adopt new technologies for animal implants. “There are zero requirements in the orthopaedic industry for a vet practice … no one asks to see certifications and the FDA doesn’t check implants for animals in general.”
However, as a provider of implants for pets, Osteogen has a responsibility to produce implants to the highest safety standards. When identifying a third party manufacturer for the Additive Manufacturing of new implants, Smirthwaite stated, “it’s crucial for us to find 3D printing suppliers who produce products 100% up to medical standards.”
One of the key obstacles Osteogen faced in this regard was its lack of geographical accessibility to suitable service bureaus. “Even though I know British outlets very well, I am not as familiar about companies and AM offerings outside of the UK.”
Smirthwaite was introduced to Link3D via a contact from Within Technologies (now an Autodesk company). Because Link3D On Demand allows its users to search its network of AM service providers using advanced parameters – including where specific medical-grade certifications are required – Osteogen was able to quickly identify trustworthy, medically safe manufacturers.
Having chosen 3D Medical as the most suitable provider for its needs, Smirthwaite stated, “3D Medical took the time to speak with my team and I directly to cover specifications and goals for our order.”
According to Osteogen, it is essential that doctors and service bureaus are able to communicate in order to produce ethical products that are free from mechanical miscalculations. By giving its users access to a global network of AM service bureaus in thirty-seven countries, with clearly defined specialities, Smirthwaite stated, “Link3D created an avenue for this dialogue to begin.”