Dr.-Ing. Tassilo Moritz
A herniated or degenerative intervertebral disc can cause nerve root and/or spinal cord compression,
leading to pain for the patient. In some cases, surgical treatments such as spinal fusion are necessary
to improve the quality of life and to prevent from further possible clinical problems. A spinal fusion
consists of decompressing two vertebrae after a disc herniation, removal of the damaged disc and
then insertion of a fusion cage between the upper and the lower vertebra to maintain the disc height
and lordotic angle.
Ceramic 3D printed technologies allow for production of implants with extremely complex
geometries which include dense ceramic, textured surfaces and trabecular structures. In general,
texturing of the surface has been shown to be advantageous for cell differentiation, bone ingrowth
and can enable an increase in implant?to?bone integration.
Advantages with 3D printed spinal implants
1. The conventional ceramic manufacturing (i.e. green machining by milling and turning) has
limitations which make the production of ceramic with textured or trabecular regions too difficult
or too expensive. The goal is to quickly manufacture less expensive implants with complex
2. Create porous rough surfaces that stimulate the bone ingrowth, allow for bone integration
between the bone and the implant and aid in the primary stability of the implant.
3. Create a stable trabecular interconnected structure without the risk of debris release in the
body that can lead to implant loosening.
The CAD model in the picture below is an example of a spinal cage first prototype which can be 3Dprinted.
These products are under development and are not approved by any authority.
Printed spinal implant
This case study was designed to comprehensively test and evaluate new materials, feedstocks, devices and processes.
The final results can be seen in three videos at the Process Development page.