At Beijing’s Peking University Third Hospital, Liu Zhongjun and his team of surgeons are using 3D printed titanium implants which fit perfectly with the patients pelvis structure, rather than traditional steel pins or plates. The titanium implants are created via Electron Beam Melting.

Zhongjun has been working on the titanium implants for the past four years. “We started clinical trials on 3D printed implants late last year, and now we have used dozens of such implants for more than 50 patients,” said Liu. “All the patients recover very well. Nobody seems to have any undesirable side effects or adverse reaction.”

“3D printing technology has two very nice features: 1. It can print specific structures; 2. It is capable of producing porous metal.” Liu explained. “For example atlantoaxial is an oddly shaped vertebrae, the shapes of orthopedic implants used nowadays are usually geometric patterns and can not attach to bones firmly. But 3D printed implant fits perfectly and could greatly enhance the firmness.”

According to Zhongjun, bones can grow into the pores of metal structures and create a stronger implant. “In the past we used clinical titanium mesh, but with the growth of bone, titanium mesh could easily stuck into the bone and cause collapse. 3D printed implants fit the bone completely. And as a result, not only the pressure on the bone is reduced, but it also allows the bone to grow into the implants.”

The Chinese health authority is currently in the process of testing and approving the 3D printed titanium implants.

Watch the video below of an Electron Beam Melting 3D printer printing titanium implants.