LimaCorporate, an Italian medical device company specializing in reconstructive orthopedic implants, is currently creating the first on-site 3D printing facility at a hospital. Recently, the company confirmed that the construction process was underway at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York. The two confirmed their partnership in January of this year, and now plan to have the new facility up and running in 2020. This LimaCorporate center is expected to serve hospitals in the region prior to expanding across America.
HSS has been using customized implants from LimaCorporate’s Italian center for three years. LimaCorporate has been using additive manufacturing techniques since 2007 to make high end 3D printed implants using Electron Beam Melting (EMB) on GE Additive’s Arcam systems. These implants leverage the Trabecular Titanium biomaterial, which is designed to enhance both vascularization and cell migration. This technology increases the movement of oxygen, ions, nutrients, and bone inducing factors, ultimately improving the formation of new bone and acceptance of the new implant. Their titanium hip cup made in this fashion has proven to stay effective 10 years after implantation.
“HSS and Lima had been working very successfully together on multiple projects under a Master Development Agreement since March 2016,” said Leonard Achan, Chief Innovation Officer at the Hospital for Special Surgery. “At the same time, Lima had placed a strategic emphasis on building its ProMade custom implant business, a market segment that can benefit greatly from use of additive manufacturing and that is fairly underserved in the orthopedic industry.”
Reports emerged back in April that the Redwood City, California-based company was seeking to raise up to $300 million, which we now know was in the ballpark. This round takes Carbon’s total raised to $680 million and follows its $200 million series D raise from 2017, when it claimed a $1.7 billion valuation. Pitchbook estimated earlier this year that Carbon could now be valued at up to $2.5 billion, and we’re told the company has in fact reached a valuation of $2.4 billion with this latest round.
Founded in 2013, Carbon is one of a number of startups developing 3D printing technologies to open up digital manufacturing to more creators and companies. It operates at the intersection of “hardware, software, and materials science,” as the company puts it, with specialized “digital light synthesis” technology that meshes light projection with programmable resins to transform the liquids into solid materials. Moreover, it can create complex, intricate constructions not possible with traditional mold injections, while ensuring the final product is both sturdy and lightweight.
As recently as three years ago, no metal 3D printing systems cost less than $500,000 to implement. Realistically, most metal printers — including purchase, installation, and support — cost north of a million dollars. A high high cost when you’re talking new (and often experimental) technology. Most used selective laser melting (or a close derivative), a process requiring a high-power laser and powder management system. These large, expensive, difficult to maintain machines would sit in a large company’s innovation lab, printing out either prototypes or exploratory designs.
In the last few years, two critical changes have ushered in a divergence in how metal printing is used. First, a number of companies have released more affordable metal printers, ($100k-$200k startup cost) reducing the financial barrier to entry and allowing more companies to invest in the process for a wider variety of applications. Second, companies like GE Additive (by purchasing two metal 3D printer companies) and HP (by developing their own Binder Jetting printer) have experimented and succeeded in implementing additive manufacturing at a larger scale, utilizing investments in the tens or even hundreds of millions to produce end-use parts at production volumes. Don’t forget the myriad of start ups as well as foreign firms. We now have two distinct goals: proliferating metal 3D printers and utilizing metal additive manufacturing for true production.
What is the cost difference between metal additive manufacturing and traditional manufacturing? The three main factors that determine cost is tooling, minimum order quantity, and lead times — all of which additive manufacturing shines.
It’s interesting. Most firms that have embraced 3D Printing did not have a 3D Printing strategy. We find that 3D Printing was often adopted in a piecemeal way. One department would get a 3D Printer. A new sales person would arrive, and a company buys a different 3D Printer. Over time, you get an enterprise with many types of printers.
This has it’s pros and cons. On the pro side, you aren’t locked into one manufacturer, and can see which machine works best for your firm. The cons however mean that firms have to learn many software programs to manage the machines. This “soft cost” isn’t soft at all…the staffing can cost more than the cost of the machines themselves! Many firms feel that a generic OS would help them the most.
In what the Israeli media is calling a “world’s first,” scientists at Tel Aviv University have 3D printed a small heart using human tissue that includes vessels, collagen, and biological molecules — a breakthrough, according to Haaretz, that they hope could one day render organ donation obsolete.
The technology is still many years out from human transplants, though — the team’s rodent-sized printed heart isn’t quite there yet.
“The cells need to form a pumping ability; they can currently contract, but we need them to work together,” lead scientist Tal Dvir told Haaretz. “This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart complete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers,” Dvir said. Take a look at this 3D Printing video to see it.
NASA once again is embracing 3D printing. Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering announced that NASA has awarded a three-year, $5.2 million contract to its National Center for Additive Manufacturing Excellence, or NCAME, to develop additive manufacturing processes and techniques to boost liquid rocket engines performance. The contract is the latest expansion of a longstanding public-private partnership between Auburn and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The best news about this project is that the technologies developed by this team will be made available widely to the private sector, offering more companies the opportunity to use these advanced manufacturing techniques. This is per Paul McConnaughey, deputy director of Marshall Space Flight Center.
HP has announced the launch of its Metal Jet Production Service, enabling customers to upload designs and produce production-grade additively manufactured metal parts in large quantities. The parts are produced by HP partners GKN Powder Metallurgy and Parmatech, using HP’s Metal Jet systems.
This is great news for companies who want to try 3D Printing or even use it continuously, but not invest in the printers or training themselves.
The Metal Jet Production Service allows customers to upload their design file through the HP website. The HP team perform design compatibility checks to ensure suitability for its Metal Jet Additive Manufacturing technology. Once confirmed, the customer is connected to one of HP’s trusted third-party manufacturing partners to fulfil the order.
“As we continue to expand our plastics and metals portfolio across both prototyping and production, and build out our community of global partners, we are helping customers save money, accelerate time to market, and improve sustainability as they progress on their digital manufacturing journey,” stated Christoph Schell, President of 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing, HP Inc.