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Siemens intelligent software aids medical implant manufacturing

SIEMENS says its intelligent software for virtual planning and machine tools control is making it possible to manufacture medical implants faster and less expensively.

Artificial knees, shoulder or hip joints are challenging to manufacture due to the use of durable materials like titanium or chromium cobalt, which are very difficult to machine. Additionally, the complex shapes involved must be produced very precisely in order to optimally fit the patient.

Increased longevity means there is increasing demand for implants. Siemens Industry Automation and Drive Technologies claims its new milling technology and the high-speed cutting process means implants can be made with ultimate precision, in less time, and more cost-effectively.

An optimally fitted implant begins with photos of the joint that is to be replaced. The images are taken with a computer tomography or magnetic resonance imaging scanner.

A doctor virtually chooses a suitable implant on the computer and uses 3D planning software to position the implant at the location of the joint to be replaced. Siemens NX CAM simulates the production of the joint in a test run to avoid later damage to the expense titanium or chromium cobalt workpieces and to achieve an optimal precision fit.

The traversing paths identified in the simulation are forwarded to the machine tools, which then use a metal-cutting process to produce these precision-fitted implants. The machines work with a spindle speed of 40,000 to 60,000 revolutions per minute.

Siemens says the technology can also be used to manufacture dental implants. High-productivity dental manufacturing is only possible with an optimally coordinated process chain, from imaging of the patient’s condition to the production of the implant.

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