February 29, 2024

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3D printed spine disc paves the way for new direction

Photo Credit: RMIT University

The Technical Director of RMIT University’s Advanced Manufacturing Precinct is being recognised for the impact of his work.

The recognition is reserved for engineers who have ’pushed boundaries, defied odds, and came up with innovations that no-one could have imagined 100 years ago’.

3D printed spinal implant

According to a recent press release, he led the research into Australia’s first locally-made 3D printed spinal implant, which was successfully delivered to a patient in 2015.

The patient was born with a rare spinal defect that stops one vertebra from fully forming. This has affected the patient’s quality of, slumping it to a ‘zero out of 10’, while the pain was an ’11 out of 10’.

There were commercially available spinal implants. However, they did not fit the specific gap in the patient’s spine, thereby becoming unsuitable.

This led researchers from the University and a medical implant producer and neurosurgeon to team up in order to print and insert custom designed implant specifically for the patient.

The project only had a short time frame which covered design, manufacture and implantation within six weeks.

The Technical Director shared that the design had to be of non-uniform structure that was able to support someone’s full body weight. This presented a significant challenge.

However, they eventually produced a lattice titanium cage that would do just that.

They used RMIT-developed software tools and 3D laser printers to build the implant, layer by layer, from titanium metal powder.

Successful project

The operation was a success. The patient started walking merely days into rehabilitation. A few weeks later, she was almost completely pain free.

The patient feels blessed as the 3D printed piece has given her whole world back.

The relationship with the surgeons and the engineers working together to develop a piece , which is perfect up to the millimetre perfect, to go into her spine was unbelievable.

The successful outcome was just thrilling.

According to the Technical Director, “This was the first such implant printed in Australia and implanted into a patient and research we’d worked on over many years into 3D printing was able to be used in a practical sense.”

Paving the way to new directions

The project’s success has since taken them into a new direction, designing next generation implants for bone cancer patients.

They have collaborated further to 3D-print custom bone replacements where bone cancer tumours have been removed, allowing for as much as possible of the limb to be saved.

Industry collaboration has been the key to value creation at the Advanced Manufacturing Precinct, especially in the areas of biomedical devices, aerospace, defence and mining industries.

They are looking to work with forward-thinking manufacturing companies, independent of size or background, in order to create an environment for innovation and collaboration where everyone can all learn and benefit from the interaction.

PARTNER

Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

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SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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