Amedica has announced its first fabrication of complex, three-dimensional structures by a 3D printing process called robotic deposition, or robocasting. The final products have been examined under scanning electron microscopy to confirm the integrity and validity of the 3D printing method, and have been shown to achieve similar theoretical density and microstructure attributes to the traditionally manufactured silicon nitride fusion devices currently in use.
Sonny Bal, chairman and chief executive officer, says, “3D printing of a complex ceramic material opens future doors, especially in terms of cost advantages. Custom additive manufacturing is a modern advancement, and we are proud to lead the way in 3D-printing of our silicon nitride formulation, with its advantages in bone fusion, antibacterial behaviour, and superior strength.”
Robocasting is a freeform fabrication technique for dense ceramics and composites that is based on layered deposition of highly colloidal slurries. The process is essentially binder-less and a device can be completely sintered in less than 24 hours, according to a company release. With this advancement, Amedica now intends to progress towards the commercialisation of 3D-printed silicon nitride implants, with controllable porosity levels to address specific clinical needs. The company claims that this method offers promise for the production of anatomically relevant shaped silicon nitride implants, while also allowing custom fabrication of bone scaffolds suited for cellular differentiation and neovascularisation.