Research could lead to tailor-made implants

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RESEARCH carried out in Yorkshire could help to ease the suffering of millions of patients with mobility problems.

Medical implants that are tailor-made for patients could be closer to reality, following the installation of a grinding machine at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing.

The new, PROFIMAT MC607, 5-axis CNC grinding machine, made by German company Blohm Jung, is one of the most flexible machines of its type and has been installed at the AMRC Design Prototyping and Testing Centre.

One of the grinding machine’s roles will be to help researchers understand how materials behave during grinding.

In the long term, it is hoped the grinder could be used to create a high quality finish on artificial knee joints, made from cobalt-chrome powder, using 3D printing technology.

3D printing could lead to significant benefits for patients, and is one area of research being investigated by the newly established Medical AMRC, which is on the same site as the AMRC. Today, patients needing replacement knees have to make do with the best possible match from a range of standard sizes. In future, the joint being replaced could be scanned so that a 3D replica can be made that would be a perfect match.

Dr Andy Bell, from the AMRC Design & Prototyping Group. said: “The big advantage is the joint is bespoke, so you are replacing like for like.”