3D Scanning: Additive Manufacturing & Medical Implants

Can 3D scanning help the manufacturer verify accuracy and integrity of parts?

Victoria Russman
Victoria Russman

Medical device manufacturers are now able to 3D print complex products with intricate internal structures. In particular, 3d printed orthopaedic implants are being designed with porous surfaces and complex internal geometries to facilitate faster integration between living bone and the artificial implant. However, when the printer deposits the material there is potential for imperfections. Types of materials are also a consideration. How does the manufacturer verify the accuracy and integrity of these parts without destroying them? How do they answer questions about porosity or fine tune their printing process? 3D scanning in the form of industrial computed tomography is the answer. In fact, it’s the perfect solution. The accuracy and resolution of CT makes it the perfect fit for these multifarious, 3D printed devices.

3D Scanning Technology:

NPC utilizes the Zeiss Metrotom 800 and 1500 scanning systems which project a beam of x-rays onto the object in order to obtain a 3D data set. This allows the user to examine the interior and exterior components. It is valuable insight for various job functions within the customer’s organization. Information from the scan can be compared to the CAD model, other parts, or other data sets. If the data is used properly, it can lead to fewer iterations of change in the 3D printing process allowing for shorter production schedules.

Data Analysis:

Our CT specialists understand the science behind x-rays, how they behave, and how they interact with parts of different material types and densities. It is not just about the ability to perform a scan, but rather the skill in interpreting the scan data using specialized analysis software as well. Our specialists also understand statistical variability and data trends. This is key when performing final data analysis.

Common Uses:

With critical, high quality, time sensitive parts in the medical industry, x-ray technology is employed to shorten the time it takes to get products to market. Common uses for this technology are flaw detection, failure analysis, assembly accuracy, reverse engineering applications, and metrology. For additive manufacturing, this form of 3D scanning is applied to validate complex internal structures, define porosity and inclusions, conduct FEA on real world parts, and analyze wall thickness. In addition, there is software available to conduct foam structure analysis, a contemporary biomedical solution. All of this can be accomplished with one scan or in other words, one set of data.

Do you have an additive manufacturing project that needs attention? Contact Nel PreTech Corporation with your inquiries.