Prosilas: a new life thanks to Additive Manufacturing technologies
When we approach industrial Additive Manufacturing, we focus, for mere economic reasons, aspects linked to cost per part. Thanks to the determination of Giulio and Vanna Menco, respectively Technical Director and CEO of Prosilas, has been realized a medical device whose intrinsic value is much higher than the cost per part: a biocompatible and resorbable stent.
The device, produced with additive manufacturing technologies in the Company of Civitanova Marche (Italy), has been implanted in a five years old child, suffering from bronchomalacia. A month and a half after the surgery, the child is having a new life: a life marked by an independent breath.
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Additive Manufacturing stent for Broncomalacia
Bronchomalacia is a condition of the excessive collapse of the airways during breathing which can lead to life-threatening cardiopulmonary arrests. The Additive Manufacturing process through the use of 3D printing technologies has made it possible to create a biocompatible and resorbable stent that was implanted last October 14 at the “BambinoGesù” Hospital in Rome. The device, unlike the usually implanted metal stents, will support the growth of the child’s respiratory system and will be reabsorbed within two years. Less than two months after the experimental intervention (the first of its kind in Europe), the child returned home with his family and is now able to breathe normally.
Prosilas: research and development on technologies and materials for additive manufacturing
Prosilas is one of Europe’s largest Service Providers regarding Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) additive manufacturing technology.
The Italian Factory counts more than 10 additive manufacturing systems with SLS and SLA technologies (Stereolithography). Inside the structure, there is a pre-process design and optimization department, an area dedicated to post-process treatments (aesthetic and functional), a metrology station for quality control and an area dedicated to AM R&D thanks to which, through a test and experimentation phase lasting about two years, it was possible to produce the requested part.
The new combination of materials used for the stent is composed of hydroxyapatite and polycaprolactone (PCL), a biocompatible and bioabsorbable polyester that remains in vivo for 2-3 years before resorption.
“In 2017 we received the first request for the realization of a polycaprolactone stent by a researcher of the hospital – Bambino Gesù – in Rome. Until that moment we had never heard before of Polycaprolactone. Believing in the project, we decided to invest in research and development by working on the properties of the material and buying a new Selective Laser Sinteringsystem entirely dedicated to the project” explains Vanna Menco.
Bioresorbable stent: Additive Manufacturing workflow
The production of the stent was the result of teamwork that involved different “players” in the additive manufacturing process.
- The geometries were created starting from the two-dimensional images (CAT) re-elaborated by the Innovation and Clinical Paths Unit.
- The production was entrusted to Prosilas which, thanks to previous research and development studies on additive manufacturing and biomaterial technologies, was able to realize the stent.
- Mechanical strength tests were performed
- The surgery was performed on October 14, 2019
Prosilas: from 3D printing to 4D printing
The realization of the stent with additive manufacturing technologies is a clear example of the evolution itself of traditional 3D printing technologies in the so-called 4D printing or Bioprinting. A fourth dimension is added to the three dimensions to represent the transformation of materials over time.
An evolution as exciting as it is complex that can only represent a physiological passage of those who have believed and worked in the additive manufacturing sector since the beginning.
Vanna Menco explains: “we will continue to work on developing this kind of application, trying to stimulate the scientific community to make greater use of additive materials and manufacturing technologies”, and adds “we make our experiences and our process available to the Medical world so that can be a useful tool to improve the lives of other people”.
The experience and determination of Vanna, Giulio Menco and all the Prosilas Team, have been fundamental for the success of the project that projects Italy among the world leaders in the Additive Manufacturing field.