Exactech first US implant manufacturer to apply PowderSolve, LPW’s powder quality control software, for 3D medical implants

07 Sep, 2017


Using PowderSolve to record and review powder history throughout the material lifecycle and traceability of material to individual component

LPW Technology is delighted to be working with Exactech, providers of innovative, high quality bone and joint restoration products.

In the medical device industry where patients are relying on life-changing implants, it is critical that the components are both biologically compatible and mechanically reliable. One of the great benefits of metal additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is the flexibility to design tailored parts with complex geometries to mold to a person’s individual makeup.

As important as the design shape of the implant, be that a hip, knee or shoulder joint, is the reliability of the bone replacement or strengthening component. The body is a chemically aggressive environment, with great strain being placed on the skeletal and muscular system so parts must be chemically inert and free from cracks or imperfections.

To achieve this degree of reliability requires confidence in the starting materials – the metal powders. It is critical to have powders that are known to be free of contaminants and low in oxygen to avoid variations in mechanical properties of ductility, tensile strength and hardness.

Exactech turned to LPW to ensure that the high quality titanium powders that they use in Additive Manufacturing are within the same stringent specifications before each repeat build.

As metal powders are reused they can pick up oxygen, and if not handled correctly become contaminated. ISO 13485 certified, LPW provides a comprehensive powder testing service performing sieve analysis and looking at the detailed powder morphology, chemical verification and oxygen and nitrogen determination on recycled powders to identify any critical changes to the titanium powder prior to reuse.

As John Hunter, General Manager of LPW Technology Inc. highlighted “Knowing the condition of your powder at every step of the way is important to have confidence in the integrity of the final built part and helps avoid costly failures and component rejection”.

PowderSolve, along with the PowderTrace storage and transport hopper, are two products expressly designed to monitor and control powder condition, adding traceability, reliability and confidence in the built component.

As Exactech’s Senior Director of Manufacturing Operations Ron Green noted, “Using PowderSolve, the ability to know the material condition and to track the powder history, or genealogy, through different blends, repeated uses and different batches ensures full metal powder traceability in every individual part that we build. The assurance that this presents to a surgeon, delivering enhanced patient mobility through Exactech implants, cannot be underestimated.”

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