3Diligent Royals Trophy Contest Official Rules – Submissions Open!

Designers can start submitting designs now; deadline is November 30!

We’re very excited to have officially opened the 3D Printed KC Royals Trophy Competition!

We’re now accepting submissions and have extended the submission deadline to give everyone Turkey Day weekend as extra time to perfect their design (or to submit multiple designs!).  Please send us your submission(s) before end of day Monday, November 30th, by emailing trophycontest@3Diligent.com with the following details:

  1. Your trophy CAD file
  2. Your name, birth date, address, telephone number and preferred email address
  3. Your preferred printing process for the design
  4. Your preferred materials and finish for the design

We’ll be judging on the following criteria:

  1. Creative reference to the Royals winning the championship
  2. Realistic design and manufacturing consideration (i.e., uniquely suited to 3D Printing)
  3. Creativity, originality, and uniqueness
  4. Overall design and appearance

Please keep designs inside a bounding box 10 inches cubed, and please don’t infringe on the actual World Series trophy design, as that is trademarked content belonging to MLB and Tiffany.

Semifinalists will get $100 cash and $250 credit for use on future jobs on www.3Diligent.com.  The winner will get $500 cash and $1,000 in platform credit.  We’ll also be printing the trophy as a gift to the Royals, so if it’s awesome enough, it might find a place next to the circular one with the little flags on it!

Here’s a link to the official contest rules: http://news.3diligent.com/trophy-contest-terms/

We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Happy Designing,

3Diligent

3Diligent gains membership in America Makes and ASTM F42 Committee

B2B Marketplace for 3D Printing joins leading 3D Printing Institutions

At 3Diligent, we’re extremely pleased to announce that we’ve recently joined two of the finest institutions advancing the 3D Printing industry – America Makes and the ASTM F42 Committee!  Given our dual focus on accelerating innovation and ensuring the highest level of quality in every part 3D Printed via our platform, we are very excited to work with both groups in furthering the industry.  A few words on both…

America Makes

In 2013, President Obama issued his annual State of the Union address.  In the speech, he paid particular attention to 3D Printing, which he stated was revolutionizing manufacturing in America.  In order for America to be a world leader in 3D Printing, he felt government investment was warranted, and aimed to fund public-private institutes dedicated to the advancement of 3D Printing in the US.

Central to his comments was America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute.  Located in Youngstown, Ohio in a refurbished turn-of-the-century factory building, America Makes brings together various key players in the 3D Printing industry, including printer manufacturers, end users, service providers, and consultants.  America Makes members jointly invest in projects designed to further understanding and advancement of additive manufacturing technologies.  America Makes is also dedicated to helping commercialize new technologies and to accelerating adoption of those products beyond the university realm.  To that end, America Makes and 3Diligent – which supports a myriad of technologies and materials within its marketplace, as well as offering a medium for exposure of emerging industrial grade technologies – are a logical fit.

Rob Gorham, Director of Operations for America Makes, offered these thoughts on 3Diligent’s entry to America Makes:

“It’s a real challenge for companies in this rapidly evolving industry to quickly connect with service providers when there’s such a wide range of 3D Printing options.  The capabilities that 3Diligent offers for the industry and America Makes members makes them a great fit.”

3Diligent looks forward to supporting America Makes on a number of levels – from supporting America Makes members with its vendor network to providing newly commercialized technologies an avenue for growth on the 3Diligent platform.  We also look forward to gleaning key insights from America Makes projects and sharing relevant information with 3Diligent vendors to accelerate advancement of the technology and enhance every customer’s 3Diligent.com experience.

ASTM International F42 Committee

ASTM International is the world’s leader in voluntary quality standards.  Founded in 1898 as The American Society for Testing and Materials, it rebranded in 2001 as ASTM International in response to growth of its membership and use of its standards across borders and over seas.  ASTM’s F42 Committee is specifically charged with the task of establishing standards for the additive manufacturing – or 3D Printing – industry.

Establishing standards is a key challenge for the rapidly evolving 3D Printing market.  With the many different processes and materials available for use, the same CAD drawing fed into different 3D Printers can result in significantly different part outputs.  Even parts made with the same design file, material, and machinery can vary based on different production specifications.  The F42 Committee is striving to develop standards that make 3D Printing an increasingly viable option for large scale production of parts.  ASTM is working closely with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in establishing these standards.

Carl Dekker, President of the F42 Committee, offered this on 3Diligent’s membership: “We’re excited to add 3Diligent to the ASTM F42 Committee on Standards for Additive Manufacturing.  Their focus on quality makes them a great fit for F42.  Their viewpoint across many service providers allows them to bring a unique perspective to the committee.  We look forward to their engagement and support of F42 Standards.”

We wholeheartedly reciprocate Carl’s sentiment.  We look forward to jointly crafting standards that will advance the industry and support rapid adoption of 3D Printing technologies both here in the US and across the globe.

In Summary

3Diligent is honored to join both America Makes and the ASTM F42 Committee.  By closely working with both organizations, we aim to do an even better job supporting the quality service providers in our network and in turn accelerating innovation for our customers as they seek to utilize cutting edge 3D Printing technology on demand.

The Future of 3D Printed implants: Promise and Challenges

The promise is incredible but the pathway isn’t clear

On our Facebook and Twitter feeds yesterday, we posted about the incredible news from Spain late last week that a man with cancer was provided a custom rib cage by Australian medical device company Anatomics and the team of doctors at Salamanca University Hospital.

The rib cage, 3D Printed in titanium, was designed for the customer using CAT Scan data converted into a CAD design, and then printed on an Arcam Electron Beam Melting 3D Printer.

This incredible story sets the stage for a broader discussion of 3D Printed prosthetics.  What are they?  Are they better than traditional implants?  If so, why?  And for those of us with creaky knees or hips, can I get one?

In this post, we aim to outline a brief history of metal prosthetics, note some of the key benefits of 3D Printing for orthopedic surgery, and discuss a few hurdles to adoption that 3D Printed prosthetics face.

3d printed sternum, 3d printed ribs, 3d printed prosthetic
Illustration of 3D Printed Illustration. Source: Anatomics/CSIRO

A brief history of metal “bone mimicry”

Ever since people have experienced failing joints, doctors have tried to develop new and better ways to stabilize and revitalize them.  In recent decades, that has taken the form of prosthetic implant devices which effectively mimic the behavior of failing or failed bone.  Companies like Medtronic and DePuy have mass produced replacement joint components of varying shapes and sizes, which are implanted into the body during surgery.  The inherent risk of an implant, however, is that the patient’s body rejects it.  If it’s dimensionally inaccurate in the wrong place or made of the wrong material, for example, it can lead to a host of complications tied to the body’s rejection of the implant.  Recognizing these challenges, actions have been taken and advances made.  Still, there aren’t perfect solutions.  Mass produced implants can effectively serve the bulk of the population, but when a part doesn’t quite fit, it’s forced to fit by way of bone sawing and other surgical techniques.  Once the implant is in, getting it to integrate with the patient’s skeletal system is another issue.  Dr. Peter Sculco, an orthopedic surgeon with New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery, spoke to some of the progress of the past two decades in combating this issue: “First there was a metal mesh, then small cobalt chrome metallic beads, then a titanium plasma spray.”  Still, he noted the key shortcoming of those advances: “These techniques encourage bone to grow onto, but not into implants.”

Custom matching at the macro and micro level

3D Printing addresses both of these lingering issues.

For those cases where a size S, M, L, or XL implant doesn’t quite fit, 3D Printing allows for custom designed implants to match a patient’s unique anatomy.  This minimizes the impact that the surgery needs to have on surrounding muscular systems, expediting the time it takes for the muscles to reform around the implant and shortening recovery times.  The story from Salamanca is a perfect case example of this – the patient’s cancer called for a unique geometry that simply wasn’t available in mass produced form.

Additionally , 3D Printing opens the door to bone growth into the implants themselves.  Bone is inherently porous, and will grow into metallic structures that can match its porosity.  Prior to the advent of 3D Printing, creating such porous structures via traditional manufacturing methods was extremely time and labor intensive.  “The manufacturing process was restricted to a predetermined structure [which] limited the shapes and porosity of the designed metal,” Sculco said.  3D Printing allows for this porosity to be integrated into the design at the time of its manufacture.  So not only can prosthetic designs be matched to the specific body geometry of the patient in question, but different microstructures can be embedded into the prosthetic to match the desired porosity and stiffness of the bone in question.  As Sculco notes, this is very advantageous in a complex surgery with varying amounts of bone loss.  “The microscopic 3D structure and overall porosity can be carefully calculated to reflect the surrounding bone environment and such biomimicry optimizes bone ingrowth and implant fixation.”  In sum, with 3D Printing, a patient’s bone and the implant become a single functioning part rather than two separate parts that find a way to cohabitate, as with traditional prosthetics.

Hurdles for 3D Printed Prosthetics

While 3D printed implants offer tremendous promise for the reasons outlined, don’t sign up for your new knee or hip just yet.  There are a few barriers that limit custom prosthetics from becoming commonplace in the immediate term.

Demonstrated Performance

The first hurdle to clear is demonstrated performance.  3D Printed prosthetics are fairly new phenomena – while skulls, vertebra, and jaws have all been printed, for instance, the rib cage and sternum case was a world first.  So while the possibilities for improved patient care seem tremendous, there is still a lot of testing and learning to be done.  It will be important to watch how cases like the cancer patient in Spain unfold, to see whether ongoing performance in these special case exemptions are positive.  It’s worth noting that 3D Printed parts are not as inherently strong as forged parts – which is the current process for traditional metal medical implants.  While they are stronger than cast parts, they simply wear down faster than forged parts in a lab testing environment.  This may not matter if the implant integrates with the existing skeletal system, but this tradeoff of osteointegration vs. impact resistance over time is at the crux of demonstrating the superiority of printed implants or traditional options.

Regulation

Presuming data favorable to 3D Printing continues to come back, you can assume more companies will push into the sphere of registering products tailored for 3D Printing.  As Matthew DiPrima of the FDA told participants at the IPQC Summit for Additive Manufacturing in Life Sciences, more than 70 3D printed devices have been cleared via the 510(k) pathway, including patient matched implants (e.g., skull), patient-matched surgical guides, dental devices, and orthopedic devices.  While those approvals have taken place, DiPrima noted that draft technical guidance for medical device companies is still to be published by the FDA later this year.  Until then, companies exploring 3D Printed innovations face a fairly uncertain approval pathway.  Once that guidance is provided, it remains to be seen how narrow or broad the guidance will be.  The default means of 3D Printing metal prosthetics is by selectively fusing grains of metal powder – something that is subject to the inherent variability of a laser, among other variables.  How directive the FDA wants to be remains to be seen.

And that is just approval in America.  There is no governing body worldwide.  So 3D Printed innovations will need to go through separate approval processes for the governing body in each market where it would like to sell 3D Printed solutions en masse.

Conclusion

3D Printed prosthetics hold a world of promise and developments in this space should be watched closely.  In conjunction with 3D Printed assays for drug testing, they represent two fairly near term game changing 3D printing applications in the life sciences space.  With all of that said, keep being nice to your knees!  Custom 3D Printed implants for all are coming as fast as they can, but there’s still a bit of ways to go.

 

Cullen Hilkene is CEO of 3Diligent, the Sourcing Solution for Industrial Grade Rapid Manufacturing. He is an alumnus of Princeton University, the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and Deloitte Strategy and Operations Consulting. For more information about 3D Printing and to access 3Diligent’s marketplace of 3D Printing vendors, visit www.3Diligent.com.