5 key trends in cost and scalability of 3D printed orthopedic technology

Laura Dyrda -   Print  |

Additive technology is becoming more common in the medical device space, including for spine and large joint implants. The 3D printing technique allows companies to create patient-specific devices that could lead to better outcomes.


Advanced Manufacturing took an in-depth look at the technology in the medical space, examining the cost and performance of devices already on the market. Here are five key trends from the report:

1. The cost of additive technology is decreasing, however it's still more expensive than traditional manufacturing. The "break-even" point mentioned in the article is having around a 50,000-unit run.

2. The devices made with additive technology could reduce operating room time and improve outcomes as well as surgeon and patient satisfaction and confidence. Some orthopedic surgeons are using nylon cutting guides to drive production.

3. The number of metal additive manufacturing machines sold doubled over the past year, a trend driven in part by the medical field. The metal implants can spur bone in-growth, which is ideal for orthopedic conditions to avoid titanium plasma sprays.

4. Being first to market with 3D printing in either plastic or metal devices can be a competitive advantage, according to the report, because companies can then scale faster. The first companies with a new innovation are also the first to have 10-year clinical data, which is attractive to surgeons.

5. The 3D printed implants are so close to the patient's natural anatomy that surgeons do less machining, which saves on cost.

More articles on implant surface technology:
Camber Spine receives FDA clearance for titanium ALIF device: 3 insights
K2M receives FDA clearance for patient-specific BACS platform
Titan Spine's 3 next steps

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