Last month we took a look at generative design in consumer products. We spoke to experts from CAD companies and manufacturers, and we learned that while there are instances of generative design in day-to-day products, they are still a way off from true mainstream adoption.

We learned that the biggest customers for generative design software are the manufacturers that require high-value, small production run, highly customized parts, such as aerospace companies and those involved in the medical implant industry.

So, to follow on the theme of last month’s article, we decided to speak to industry experts about the current state of generative design in the medical implant sector.

Implants

Medical implants, such as bone replacements, are the very definition of products that require a high level of customization. Every person is distinctly different, and so there is no one-size-fits-all solution where implants are concerned.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that biomechanical engineering companies have been early adopters of 3D printing technology. In fact, just recently the first recipient of a 3D printed titanium hip bone celebrated the 10th anniversary of the procedure—and the patient is reportedly still doing very well indeed. The surgeon who performed the procedure, Dr. Guido Grappiolo, has personally implanted over 600 3D-printed implants since that first procedure. Globally, over 10,000 patients have benefitted from implanted 3D-printed hip bone implants. That is a strong testament to the technology’s effectiveness.

But a lot has changed in those 10 years in terms of CAD and CAE simulation. Nowadays we have generative design and topology optimization, which can not only reduce the weight of these implants, but can also more closely mimic the trabecular structures found within bone.

So let’s once more ask the same question that we have been asking in this series of articles:

Generative design and topology optimization in medical implants: where are we now?

By Phillip Keane | engineering.com

Image Credit: Autodesk

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