3D printing revolutionises medical device technology by allowing personalised devices to be created within a short period of time, and at lower costs than traditional manufacturing methods.
OncoEng aims to utilise 3D printing to create minimally invasive implants (MII) out of metamaterials. These are materials created from an array of lattices, that change the nature of the bulk material. For example, a metamaterial may deform in a different direction than expected under loading.
This provides the opportunity for new keyhole surgery techniques, in which the device may be compressed prior to surgery, and expand once it is placed within the patient. This will limit the size of the incision and improve recovery times.
However, the current generation of printers does not meet the specifications required by OncoEng. The build volume-to-resolution specifications are outside the limits of current technologies. This presents the first research challenge for OncoEng.
As a result, research is being conducted to be able to manufacture metamaterial minimally invasive implants to the required specification.