Using Direct Metal Sintering to Fight Bacteria in Implants

Could adding antibacterial agents to the additive manufacturing process lead to safer medical implants?

Direct Metal Sintering is used to create titanium implants for dental and orthopedic use. 3D modeling allows manufacturers to determine the porosity and surface roughness of the implant for medical use. Titanium and titanium alloys are preferred in the medical field due to their biocompatibility and other properties that cause minimal disruptions within the body.

However, the rough surfaces can often lead to breeding grounds for bacteria, and by extension, biofilm in the implants. This can lead to infection or unwanted cell adhesion. These infections can cause implants to come loose or even detach. While measures are taken to prevent these infections, bacteria is still commonly present within an implant. Over time, bacterial colonization leads to the creation of a biofilm, which makes it more difficult to fight and remove the bacteria from within the implant.

To combat this, researchers determined that preventing the spread of bacteria would have to come from within the implant, or rather, with antibacterial coatings on the surface of the implant. This poses a unique challenge, as antibacterial agents used would have to be both compatible with the titanium and titanium alloys, and nontoxic to the patient receiving the implant. Utilizing a novel phase-transited lysosome, with a variable thickness, combined with three layers of negatively charged hyaluronic acid and positively charged chitosan, researchers believed they could prevent the formation of the biofilms by including these within the direct metal sintering process.

The results show that the method (phase transited lysosome-functionalized Direct Metal Laser Sintering Titanium, or PTL-DMLS-Ti)  can help prevent the early onset of bacterial presence in the implant, while still retaining its function and compatibility with the body. The findings are expected to gain interest within the medical field, with potential for additional applications in the future. Check out the full report here, for more information.

Interested in learning more about direct metal sintering and other additive manufacturing practices? Be sure to register for LAM, taking place February 21-22, in Houston, Texas. Don’t miss a single laser industry update, visit Lasers Today and sign up to receive the latest in lasers delivered directly to your inbox.

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