A 55-year-old patient suffering from skull deformity has received a 3D-printed PEEK cranial implant successfully manufactured at point of care in the University Hospital of Salzburg (Austria). While 3D printed cranial implants are increasingly becoming popular custom medical devices in the medical world, this was a premiere for the University Hospital of Salzburg (Austria).

The in-house clinicians who worked on this medical device, leveraged the capabilities of Oqton’s D2P® and Geomagic Freeform® software with 3D Systems’ Kumovis R1, and Evonik’s VESTAKEEP® i4 3DF PEEK material. The combination of these solutions is, I believe, a “match made in heaven”.

Let me tell you something I won’t usually tell people: I am one of those people who believe that certain technologies are a perfect fit for certain applications. It’s like the satisfying sound you heard when two perfect LEGO bricks click. Well, if the combination of certain technologies could make a sound, I am pretty sure that’s what we would have heard when combining Oqton, 3D Systems and Evonik’s solutions together.

One learns that these technologies were brought together by the hospital’s in-house clinicians to successfully address the patient’s needs, providing a customized solution that best positioned the team for success. The hospital used Oqton’s D2P® software to create 3D models from the patient’s CT images and Oqton’s Geomagic Freeform® to complete the design of the patient-specific occipital prosthesis. The cranial implant was printed using VESTAKEEP® i4 3DF PEEK by Evonik on 3D Systems’ Kumovis R1 extrusion platform.

PEEK is a very desirable material for the production of medical devices because it is lightweight, resistant to thermal and ionizing radiation, and possesses mechanical properties similar to those of human bone.

Evonik’s Marc Knebel told 3D ADEPT Media the same thing when discussing the role of polymer materials in improving the next generation of 3D printed implants (pp 20-23 of 3D ADEPT Mag, March-April edition).

Interestingly, the VESTAKEEP® i4 3DF PEEK material has already proven its capabilities in other 3D printed implants. Just a few days ago, we told you that the material is one of the reasons why Curiveta’s 3D Printed Porous HA PEEK technology checks all boxes for surgeries. Two years ago, a patient from Skåne University Hospital received a cranioplasty 3D printed implant made up of this material.

On another note, the Kumovis printing platform – launched in 2019 – was specifically designed to enable this type of point-of-care application within the hospital.  The (FLM) Fused Layer Manufacturing-based 3D printing system integrates a temperature control and filter system that allows operators to achieve a clean room environment right in the build chamber. These features make the R1 a good candidate to meet the requirements for fabricating patient-adapted medical products.

From a patient standpoint, Dr. Jeffrey Graves, president and CEO of 3D Systems, explains that the procedure has given Mr. Trummer a certain relief.

“[We are] deeply indebted to the talented surgeons and staff at Salzburg University Hospital who brought together for the first time our unique software, hardware, and materials technologies in a point-of-care hospital setting to address his specific needs. We believe that this success provides a real-life demonstration of the potential for enhancing orthopedic outcomes through the use of comprehensive digital manufacturing technologies in a hospital setting. Our focus on point-of-care implementation of these integrated technologies is a key priority for our company, and one that we believe will bring significant benefits to patients around the world in the years ahead,” Graves concludes.

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