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Canada Makes congratulates AP&C on receiving ISO13485 certification

AP&CCanada Makes would like to congratulate its partner AP&C in receiving ISO13485 certification. Advanced Powders & Coatings (AP&C), a subsidiary of Arcam AB and a GE Additive Company, is the world’s largest producer of titanium powder for additive applications.  The ISO13485 is particularly designated for the orthopedic implant industry. In addition to the new ISO13485 certification, AP&C is already certified to ISO9001 and AS9100.

“The ISO13485 certification proves our firm’s commitment in producing quality powder to the industries we serve. With the certifications and our recently inaugurated new state of the art powder manufacturing plant we are well positioned to serve our customer’s needs”,
says Alain Dupont, President of AP&C.

“The demand for high-end titanium powder is driven by the accelerated growth and industry adaptation of Additive Manufacturing. Arcam, AP&C and GE Additive are committed to disrupt conventional manufacturing and help the industry evolve into Additive Manufacturing by offering high quality and cost-effective solutions. This ISO13485 certification is one more step into the future of Additive Manufacturing”, says Magnus René, CEO of Arcam.

AP&C just recently inaugurated its new cutting-edge facility in Saint-Eustache, Québec. The manufacturing plant will welcome 106 new employees by the end of the year, making it one of the largest employers in the region and marking a significant growth for AP&C, which has quadrupled in size over the last two years.

About AP&C (Advanced Powders & Coatings Inc.)
AP&C, a subsidiary to Arcam AB, a GE Additive company has over the past 10 years developed extensive experience working in the production of metallic powders used in additive manufacturing (3D printing). AP&C is specialized in the production of high purity titanium metal powders used in various metallurgical applications: additive manufacturing (3D printing), injection molding, isostatic pressing and coatings. The company mainly serves the aerospace and biomedical markets. There are nearly 175 employees working at AP&C’s facilities in Boisbriand and Saint-Eustache, Québec.

Coffee lovers create portable pour-over kettle on NAIT 3D printer

Pursuit of the perfect cup leads to a prototype and a new business venture

The pour-over may be one of the simplest yet most appreciated brewing methods among coffee connoisseurs. In boutique cafés, baristas add water to cones of gourmet grounds placed over cups, extracting maximum flavour and richness. Discerning customers happily wait from 2-and-a-half to 4 minutes for their caffeine kick.

Edmonton entrepreneurs Matthew Semaka and Steven Osterlund wanted to enjoy that same experience – and coffee – outside the café. “We talked about being able to go to the river valley and make a cup of nice coffee with a small kit,” says Osterlund. “It has just kind of grown from there.”

With the help of NAIT’s 3D metal printer – the only one west of Winnipeg – the pair has developed a one-of-a-kind, insulated kettle specifically designed for the perfect, portable pour-over. It’s a back-to-basics approach to coffee-making that might provide a new entry point into a market worth $6.2 billion in Canada alone.

“Coffee is a huge, huge industry – manual brew is just exploding,” says Osterlund.

prototype pour-over coffee kettles made on NAIT's 3D metal printer by Edmonton entrepreneurs Matthew Semaka and Steven Osterlund

The art of the pour-over

Originating in Japan, the pour-over is almost meditative in practice: pouring a slow, steady stream of water heated to a particular temperature over a precise amount of perfectly ground beans. It’s also effective in ways other manual brew methods aren’t, as fresh water is continuously added to the coffee, essentially releasing the flavour out of the bean and into the cup.

“Heat consistency and stability is important while conducting a manual coffee extraction,” says Semaka.

Semaka and Osterlund knew that there were good kettles – featuring the distinctive, slender gooseneck spout required for the technique – already on the market. But many had plastic components that would melt when heated over a fire or outdoor stove and were too bulky to be portable. The only solution they could see was to make their own.

After a chance meeting with Paul Dews, NAIT’s manager of innovation support services, they discovered they could do just that through the polytechnic’s TechGym. There, they had access to equipment for prototyping and small-scale manufacturing, including the printer, which makes objects by depositing layer upon layer of metal.

Osterlund wasn’t surprised that NAIT had a 3D metal printer. He was, however, “more surprised that us, just being members of the public, were able to come in and utilize it.”

The team drafted a couple of computer-generated designs and by January 2017 had their first printed stainless-steel prototype. It took 3 days to print, and weighed just over 1 kilogram. But it was the start they needed. In March, Semaka and Osterlund incorporated as Ketl Lab.

coffee pour-over kettle made by Edmonton entrepreneurs Matthew Semaka and Steven Osterlund on NAIT's 3d metal printer

Pursuit of the perfect cup

Two versions later, the kettle has changed substantially. It’s now about one-fifth the initial weight and more compact. The handle has been made unnecessary thanks to innovative insulation (the same used by NASA) that keeps the exterior cool while heating water faster and holding a consistent temperature.

The potential applications have evolved as well. Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), the country’s largest trade and industry association, believes the technology could also be used in hospitals or on construction sites.

Much of the work so far has been made possible by grants from Canada Makes, a CME network dedicated to promoting additive manufacturing in Canada. NAIT was instrumental in introducing Ketl Lab to this program, says Semaka.

Now, what began as a hobby and was nurtured in a lab at NAIT, may soon be a marketable reality. The fourth – and potentially last – kettle prototype is in the works, with tweaks that may include a Bluetooth monitoring system. While it’s possible a product may be ready for sale within a year, the team won’t rush it.

The company’s focus, Osterlund says, is on “getting it right than getting it released.”

Time may be on their side. “What we are doing is not on the market today – it doesn’t exist,” says Semaka. Their potential customers, too, are likely the patient kind. Like a perfect pour-over coffee, good things are worth the wait.

SOURCE – Words: Amanda Stadel | Images: Blaise van Malsen

Join Canada Makes as a delegate for AM trade mission to Formnext in Germany

Canada Makes is looking for delegates interested in joining a trade mission to the Formnext trade-show in Frankfurt Germany this coming November 14 to 17th. The four-day fact-finding mission will focus on additive manufacturing (AM) and offer the opportunity to meet with leading AM industries stakeholders.

Formnext is the leading AM trade-show and the next generation of intelligent manufacturing solutions and will provide a European perspective. It focuses on the efficient realization of parts and products, from their design to serial production. See cutting-edge technologies your company can leverage to gain a competitive edge and the latest expertise that can help in reducing your time-to-market. For more about Formnext click here.

Trade missions are about opening doors, gaining insights, business-to business contacts, information and tools for Canadian businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Join Canada Makes as a delegate and take full advantage of the benefits. Only a limited number of spaces are available on a first-come-first serve basis. Interested parties or for more information please contact Frank Defalco frank.defalco@cme-mec.ca
Canada Makes will:

  • Set the agenda
  • Admission to the event
  • Offer logistical support
  • Arrange networking meetings with leading AM companies
  • Arrange market briefing from Canada’s German trade commissioner

In addition to your own travel and accommodation costs, Canada Makes/CME will charge an administration fee of $500.

Martin Petrak, President and CEO of Precision ADM, had this to say about trade missions. “The Canada Makes trade mission to Germany was a great way for our company to connect with international additive manufacturing leaders. Being part of the delegation also gave us the opportunity to meet with other Canadian companies interested in collaborating on national and international business opportunities.”

Last year Canada Makes organized two successful trade missions to Germany and the UK. The knowledge and connections gained are proving invaluable to its participants. View past postings on the trade missions.

Canada Makes’ UK trade mission successfully concludes
Canada Makes’ trade mission to Germany

About CME
CME is Canada’s largest trade and industry association, and the voice of manufacturing and global business in Canada. Founded in 1871, CME represents more than 10,000 leading companies nationwide, and – through various initiatives, including the establishment of the Canadian Manufacturing Coalition – touches more than 100,000 companies from coast to coast, engaged in manufacturing, international trade, and service-related industries.

About Canada Makes
A CME initiative, Canada Makes is a network of private, public, academic, and non-profit entities dedicated to promoting the adoption and development of additive manufacturing in Canada. For more on Canada Makes, please visit canadamakes.ca

Edmit Industries joins Canada Makes

Canada Makes is pleased to welcome Edmit Industries as a new member. Since 2008, the Chateauguay Quebec based Edmit has been working with metal additive manufacturing (AM) technology and developing unique ways of combining it with their other core competencies, allowing them to provide significant value added to their clients.Edmit

“We here at Edmit are looking forward to being part of Canada Makes’ network to promote the use of innovative manufacturing technologies such as additive manufacturing AM and meeting potential contacts whom we can develop and ultimately manufacture products,” said Sergio Armano, President Edmit Industries.

“Edmit is one of the first companies, if not the first, in Canada to acquire metal AM technology,” said Frank Defalco, Manager Canada Makes. “We are looking forward to continue working closely with them in bringing their considerable capabilities to Canadian companies.”

“Edmit’s mission is to support clients to design products for the manufacturing process that best meets theirs requirements,” added Armano. “We assist them through the development and prototyping process, and ultimately receive the mandate to manufacture the product.”

Canada Makes recently reported on a project undertaken with Edmit Industries Inc. and MDA to build 3D printed Titanium parts for an innovative graphite strut structure for flight application. For more on the additive manufacturing (AM) project go to – CANADA MAKES, EDMIT & MDA TEAM UP FOR INNOVATIVE SPACE APPLICATION PARTS.

MDA-Edmit-2

3D Printed Titanium Bracket and Hub for a Satellite Graphite Strut Structure, fabricated by Edmit Industries

About Edmit
Edmit is a small-to-medium size company specializing in the manufacturing of high-end precision components and assemblies. As Innovators and researchers, EDMIT provides leading edge and innovative methods and concepts. With more than 35 years of expertise, Edmit specializes in metal additive manufacturing (3D printing) of precision metal parts for the aerospace, space and medical industries and are a key partner for research and development projects for space application. edmitinc.com

About Canada Makes
A Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) initiative, Canada Makes is a network of private, public, academic, and non-profit entities dedicated to promoting the adoption and development of additive manufacturing in Canada. For more information on Canada Makes, please visit www.canadamakes.ca

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ICTC Releases Additive Manufacturing: The Impending Talent Paradigm

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The Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) announces the release of its latest report, Additive Manufacturing: The Impending Talent Paradigm.

Additive Manufacturing (AM) (often referred to as 3D Printing) is a transformative technology that is dramatically reshaping the manufacturing industry—much in the way Uber redefined the taxi industry and Netflix disrupted the media industry.

AM is rapidly growing worldwide and is now fully recognized for its massive potential in almost every market, including automotive, aerospace, medical, and robotics, just to name a few. With new modeling techniques, applications, and a variety of printable materials, AM has transitioned, in a short number of years, from a prototype technology to an integral pillar of automated manufacturing.

It is projected that the AM market will be around $17.7 billion globally in three years, and that in the next five years the manufacturing industry will look substantially different than it does today. Such rapid change brings both opportunities and challenges to businesses, workers and policymakers.

Skilled talent is the essence of any high performing economy. The rise and adoption of AM across all industries has increased the demand for highly skilled talent in this space and has left businesses searching for better talent development and recruitment strategies.

The evidence-based analysis and recommendations in this report are intended to inform policymakers, industry and educators about the labour market impact of AM development across Canada, the state of the talent supply and demand, and how best to engage, attract and retain the necessary highly-skilled talent.  The overarching goal is to place Canada in a position to meet its digital talent requirements to be competitive in the global digital economy.

“Additive manufacturing is the new frontier for advanced and smarter industries, raising the prospects of a more competitive economy. In this rapidly developing landscape, tomorrow’s talent strategies will need to be as distributive as the technologies transforming the industries.” said Namir Anani, ICTC President & CEO.

For any questions, please contact Maryna Ivus, Senior Research Analyst, at m.ivus@ictc-ctic.ca.

To view the report, please click here.

Burloak Advances Heat Exchanger Technology

Paris, France – June 20, 2017 – Burloak Technologies, a leading Canadian additive manufacturing company, and part of the family of Samuel companies, has announced the successful completion of the first stage in the development of a new heat exchanger technology. This additive manufactured design demonstrated 44 per cent lower thermal resistance over existing designs in a controlled test. “After extensive research and many months of design simulation, the successful completion of the live experiment on Burloak’s test bed validates our design hypothesis.” stated company president Peter Adams. “We will now apply these design principals to delivering custom, thermal-management solutions to our customers.”

The objective for electronic enclosures cooling is to maintain the temperature of the semiconductor components inside within their operating range. It is typical that a few components generate the majority of heat, and it is those components that the cooling design should target. Additive manufacturing enables intricate cooling channels to be created in such a manner that maximizes heat dissipation while also targeting specific areas of the enclosure.

Burloak’s research team has modelled, built and tested many, novel geometries that can only be produced using additive manufacture and have developed a comprehensive, engineering database to create the design rules that enable the heat transfer improvements. Burloak will be displaying several of the new heat exchanger designs at the 2017 Paris Air Show and will have experts on hand to discuss specific projects at the Industry Canada Showcase Hall 3/D70 and at Samuel’s Chalet (by invitation B19).

To set up a meeting during PAS2017 to discuss your business requirements, please contact: aerospace@samuel.com or sales@burloaktech.com.

ABOUT BURLOAK TECHNOLOGIES

Burloak Technologies, part of the family of Samuel companies, is a leading supplier of highly-engineered additive manufacturing solutions for clients with demanding applications in high-tech industries worldwide. Burloak delivers high quality, lightweight, fully functional additive manufactured parts for low to medium volume applications across a range of industries including: space, aerospace, defense, energy, medical, automotive, and transportation. In-house engineering, manufacturing and metrology capabilities make Burloak one of the few full-service suppliers in the industry. Together with its clients, Burloak works to re-create component and process specifications and move additive manufacturing from a prototyping technology to a certified production technology. www.burloaktech.com

ABOUT SAMUEL, SON & CO.

Founded in 1855, Samuel, Son & Co. is a family-owned and operated, integrated network of metal manufacturing, processing and distribution divisions. With over 4,800 employees and 100+ facilities, Samuel provides seamless access to metals, industrial products and related value-added services. Supporting over 40,000 customers, we leverage our industry expertise, breadth of experience and the passion of our people to help drive success for North American business – one customer at a time. www.samuel.com

Seeing Logistics In 3D: The Democratization Of Manufacturing

By 
From hearing aids to jet engines, 3D printing is revolutionizing the world of manufacturing. How will commerce change when thousands of products, from cell phones to blenders, are customizable? Even though 3D printing is a 30-year-old technology, we’re just scratching the surface of where additive manufacturing will take us, writes Alan Amling, vice president of corporate strategy for UPS.

Of all the ways 3D printing will change the world, the democratization of manufacturing is perhaps the most important. Think of it as the Uberization of manufacturing, where supply can be accessed anywhere in the world to produce goods at the click of button. This is a once-in-a-generation logistics opportunity, as so-called additive manufacturing will optimize the time and cost of making and delivering goods. Mass customization will be the new normal.

So what does this mean for the future of logistics?

Modern delivery and manufacturing

We’ll see more direct-to-person manufacturing as well as delivery. Physical stores will be reserved for generic goods, not items customized to the individual. Hybrid customization has enormous potential for logisticians. Imagine thousands of products from cell phones to blenders, each made with a common core but customizable covering.

Third-party logistics providers are uniquely suited to move these items. Logistics companies like UPS would simply store the common core in their warehouse, print the custom piece and finish final assembly near the point of consumption.

This would also disrupt service parts logistics. Right now, companies make and store hundreds of thousands of critical parts around the world at tremendous expense just on the off-chance that they’ll be needed for an emergency repair. In the future, these slow-moving parts will be stored virtually and printed on demand.

As a result, import and export costs – especially important to small businesses – will plummet dramatically.

As companies begin to take advantage of designing parts for 3D printing, the manufacturing industry will re-invent itself. Machines designed to construct a specific product will give way to 3D printers capable of making many different items.

This will be the sparkplug for efficiency across supply chains. It will revolutionize how we get items to your doorstep. And it will forever alter how you search for and purchase goods every day.

Even though 3D printing is a 30-year-old technology, we’re just scratching the surface of where additive manufacturing will take us. These printers are no longer reserved solely for prototyping and product design. We’ve moved beyond trinkets and souvenirs to items like hearing aids and aircraft parts, proving this is no fad.

3D printing demands

In addition, the demand for 3D printers, materials and services will surpass $10 billion by 2018, the consulting firm found. Such promise is why UPS recently partnered with software company SAP to expedite the manufacturing and delivery of 3D-printed parts.

Customers can go online and place an order through the Fast Radius website and these items will be printed either at a UPS Store location or printing facility connected to our air hub in Louisville, Kentucky – in as little as a day.

This effectively creates end-to-end industrial manufacturing. And we expect these efforts to go global in the near future.

Moving beyond logistics, however, 3D printing will change the way we think. It will change how future generations learn and see the world. This technology can now keep pace with anything we imagine. We’re no longer forced to innovate in a world shackled to existing infrastructure.

If you can think it, you can do it.

This article is part of UPS Longitudes’ Routes to the Future series, which explores the business and technology trends that will shape our world in the next 10 years. 

Alan Amling is vice president of corporate strategy for UPS. He previously oversaw marketing efforts for UPS’s global logistics and distribution services.

Taking the Lead in Additive Manufacturing conference: A great success

May 31st saw more than 200 industry professionals attend the Taking the Lead in Additive Manufacturing conference in Boucherville, Québec. The day’s sessions included both International and National leaders in additive manufacturing. This was the third annual Réseau Quebec-3D (RQ3D) conference organized jointly by Canada Makes, CRIQ, PRIMA and CRITM.

The knowledge shared by the day’s speakers was both instructive and well suited for the business professionals on hand. The day started with a video message from the Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, followed by the day’s keynote, Greg Morris of GE Additive, and international speakers M. Jalel Nadji, Application Engineer Materialise USA, M. Daan A.J. Kersten, CEO Additive Industries from The Netherlands, Alexandre Lahaye AddUp (Micheline-Fives) France.

Greg Morris GE Additive, Daan Kersten Additive Industries, Alexandre Lahaye AddUp (Micheline-Fives), Jalel Nadji Materialise

Of note was Greg Morris response to a question from the audience about where Canada additive efforts should focus? Canada should really be developing a supply chain that can add more value to its natural resource mineral extraction sector. Afterwards, the audience was treated to a surprise video featuring Cassidy Silbernagel, which lead into Daan Kertens presentation. Cassidy is a two-time winner of Additive Industries Design for Additive Manufacturing Challenge. You can view the video here.

During last year’s event RQ3D and Canada Makes signed a collaborative agreement designed to promote 3D printing and help Canadian manufacturers integrate this new technology. Denis Hardy, President & CEO Centre de recherche industrielle du Quebec (CRIQ), said “this conference proves that the strong alliance forged last year between RQ3D and Canada Makes is leading the push in the adoption of additive manufacturing (AM) across Canada.”

“I am very grateful to have been invited to speak at this conference. Canada Makes and RQ3D put together a great agenda with world renowned leaders in additive manufacturing which offered insightful and truly valuable information.” said Martin Petrak, CEO Precision ADM.

Canada Makes would like to thank James Wilson, Deputy Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade, Province of Manitoba for attending this years conference and we hope to continue working closely with Manitoba and other provinces in building a world leading AM sector.

The afternoon was highlighted by McGill’s University’s Mathieu Brochu’s presentation about the AM ecosystem and how to achieve an equilibrium. The day also included two significant announcements, first, is a brand new AM training initiative called Fab 3D and a new 3D Printing Design Challenge for Canada’s post secondary students that will include cash prizes.

Canada Makes is very pleased with the positive feedback received for this conference, which now must be considered Canada’s leading Additive manufacturing event. We would like to thank Louis Duhamel for doing a great job as facilitator and look forward to another great event next year.

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Government of Canada announces $8.9 million AM investment in the University of Waterloo

May 24, 2017 (Waterloo, Ontario) – The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister of Small Business and Tourism, announced an $8.9 million investment in the University of Waterloo’s Multi-Scale Additive Manufacturing (AM) Lab. This investment will establish Canada’s first major advanced manufacturing technology commercialization centre.

“This project will support up to 18 new partnerships, help commercialize up to 21 advanced manufacturing technologies and create over 80 jobs,” said Minister Chagger. “It will also provide opportunities for students from the University to prepare for the manufacturing jobs of tomorrow.”

“Innovation and skills development are the driving forces behind manufacturing, trade and a better future for middle-class Canadians. Harnessing innovative technologies is crucial to the future of Canada’s manufacturing sector,” said Dennis Darby, President and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME). “Today’s announcement is a clear example of strong, coordinated government action CME has been calling for to reinvigorate the manufacturing sector to match global competition.”

“Canada Makes is very pleased with the Government of Canada’s investment. It recognizes the importance of additive manufacturing to the future of Canada’s economy, said Martin Lavoie, Executive Director Canada Makes. “This most certainly will help grow Canada’s global competitiveness by making it easier for manufacturers to adopt additive metal manufacturing processes.”

A broad range of industrial partners including aerospace, mining and automotive, will work with the University of Waterloo’s Multi-Scale AM Lab’s state-of-the-art technology and develop innovative 3D printing solutions to streamline manufacturing in Canada.

Canada Makes will continue working closely with the team at the University of Waterloo in helping Canadian industry to adopt AM to their process and keeping Canada a world leader in innovative technology.

About the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters:
Since 1871, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters has been helping manufacturers grow at home and thrive around the world. In 2016, CME released Industrie 2030 – a roadmap for doubling Canadian manufacturing activity by 2030. Our focus is to ensure the sector is dynamic, profitable, productive, innovative and growing. We aim to do this by strengthening the labour force, accelerating the adoption of advanced technology, supporting product commercialization, expanding marketplaces and, most importantly, ensuring a globally-competitive business environment. CME is a member-driven association that directly represents more than 2,500 leading companies who account for an estimated 82 per cent of manufacturing output and 90 per cent of Canada’s exports. www.cme-mec.ca

About Canada Makes
A Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) initiative, Canada Makes is a network of private, public, academic, and non-profit entities dedicated to promoting the adoption and development of additive manufacturing in Canada. For more information on Canada Makes, please visit www.canadamakes.ca

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Redesigning medical instruments using 3D metal printing

3D metal printing helps surgeons to perform heart operation

Additive manufacturing methods of 3D printing are increasingly opening up new paths in medical technology. Alex Berry, founder of Sutrue (UK), and Richard Trimlett, consultant at the Royal Brompton Hospital, are focusing strategically on AM for applications in cardiology. Is it possible to improve the “golden hands” of an experienced heart surgeon? Yes, it is. Using the example of a machine for performing sutures during operations and a cardiac stabilizer for endoscopic heart operations, Sutrue shows how operations on the heart can be performed more safely. Heart operations are soon to become faster and safer. And there is even more good news: patients are recovering faster.

Sutures following operations are still stitched up today in almost the same way as they were in the days of the ancient Egyptians. Alex Berry discovered that around 240,000 medical professionals a year globally suffer needlestick injuries as a direct consequence of this stitching. Even experienced operators are confronted with the drawbacks and inaccuracies of previous suturing methods. To change this trend, Sutrue developed an instrument which automatically passes any curved needle with a suture through the tissue of a patient. The requirements placed on the automated suturing device were that the stitches are made quickly, are positioned precisely, are reproducible and are made with the necessary force. The better and more quickly the suturing can be performed, the shorter the operation is for the patient as well. And a clean stitch also leads to better recovery.

The perfect mechanics of an automated instrument: Suture quickly, reproducibly and cleanly in a heart operation

View of the opened gear mechanism for driving the rotating needle of the automated suturing device – the gear teeth are just 0.4 mm long

The extremely slender suturing device is inserted via a conventional endoscope the size of a drinking straw during the heart operation and moved into position. Its head can rotate and be pivoted in order to find any desired batch of tissue. The needle rotates softly and with pinpoint precision during suturing. This is possible thanks to a complex miniature gear mechanism that drives the needle. The entire gear mechanism is an AM assembly. What this innovation actually means for the operator is that the suture is pulled through quickly and cleanly and the stitch is automatically set in place. A few small stitches in arteries or in delicate structures are now possible. Each stitch can be performed with reproducible accuracy using the suturing device. Complicated operations in particular can be performed faster and more safely. Thanks to the suture device, up to three rotations of a needle per second are now possible, instead of one stich per 25 seconds while doing by hand. This reduces the risk associated with the operation for both, patients and surgeons.

Idea of stabilizing the heart muscle during the operation
In Great Britain alone, around half a million people live with a heart defect. Treatment with drugs only delivers very minor improvements to patients and often an operation on the heart is the only way to save a person’s life. In Great Britain, cardiovascular disease is the second most common cause of death, accounting for 27% of deaths, after cancer, which accounts for 29% of all deaths. During open-heart surgery, the surgeon needs the heart muscle to be stabilized for an intervention to be made. Richard Trimlett outlines the task: “We’re doing a beating heart operation so the heart is in use by the body but we need to hold the small area that we’re working on still. With the chest open we can put a big suction device in but when we’re doing keyhole surgery we need very small parts that we can pass in and out. What we don’t want to do is disadvantage the patient by offering them an inferior stability of the heart so that the quality of the operation isn’t as good when you do it as a keyhole. I said to Alex, ‘could you make something that comes apart in pieces, pass through a very small incision that we can use to hold the heart stable? Could we make it to throw it away and even customise it to the different shapes and sizes?’” For Richard Trimlett it was clear that the heart stabilizer should be small, be capable of being dismantled, and be designed with exposed channels pre-assembly. The role of the stabilizer is to keep the heart muscle still at the precise point where the surgeon wants to make an intervention. Alex Berry took on the task and presented a biocompatible prototype of the heart stabilizer: one part made of plastic (SLS) and one part made of metal (LaserCUSING). The component consists of a rod on which the U-shaped heart stabilizer is inserted, like a stamp. The surgeon presses the stabilizer onto the operating site that he wants to keep still to make an intervention. 

Short development time and care for the patient
The heart stabilizer was successfully developed in just three months. Previously, it was not uncommon for such a new development to take up to ten years. The component itself is printed by ES Technology on an Mlab cusing from Concept Laser  in the space of three to four hours. It consists of a metallic basic body and several plastic suction points that aspirate by means of a vacuum. Both parts are joined together using a sandwich technique. “The solution is estimated to have cost only around £15,000 to develop. Comparable conventional developments used to cost upwards of a million pounds,” says Berry to illustrate the relative sums involved. But from Richard Trimlett’s point of view, it is primarily the patient who benefits from the new instruments using in heart operations. Here he cites an average rehabilitation time for the patient of around six months following a conventional surgical intervention. “Initial experience indicates,” according to Richard Trimlett, “that patients undergo a demonstrably gentler procedure and can recover after just three to four weeks.”

Cooperation between surgeons and Sutrue
The Sutrue Team have been involved in the development of medical operating equipment for more than 10 years. A precise analysis of the operating method is absolutely essential to allow suitable medical instruments to be developed. To achieve this, surgeons work together closely with expert medical consultants, such as Richard Trimlett. Trimlett, who is a cardiologist, attempts to translate the specifications and wishes into a specific set of requirements. With Alex Berry from Sutrue, he has access to a manufacturing expert who transfers the requirements into CAD designs and geometries. Sutrue has been working with AM methods for around (ten) 7 years. “AM makes it possible to produce geometries that cannot be achieved using traditional manufacturing methods. In addition, the parts have greater performance capacity or functional precision, or else they are extremely delicate or small. This is often precisely what the surgeon was previously lacking,” explained Alex Berry. 

Sutrue relies on machine technology from Concept Laser
ES Technology, Concept Laser’s UK distributor, manufactures the parts for the automated suturing device on an Mlab cusing machine using the LaserCUSING process, also known as 3D metal printing. The Mlab cusing is particularly suitable for manufacturing delicate parts where a high level of surface quality is demanded. The special thing about the compact machine is its very user-friendly, pull-out drawer system that is very safe at the same time. This includes both the build chamber with dose chamber and the storage container. It allows a rapid change of material without the risk of any contamination of powder materials. The patented drawer system is available with three different sizes of build envelope (50 x 50 x 80 mm3, 70 x 70 x 80 mm3, 90 x 90 x 80 mm3). Also available now is its “big brother,” the Mlab cusing 200R, which allows even greater productivity thanks to a doubling of the laser power from 100 watts to 200 watts. In addition, a larger build envelope has been created and this increases the build volume by as much as 54% (max. 100 x 100 x 100 mm3).

In this case, the machine technology from Concept Laser makes it possible to produce the teeth of the gear mechanism, which are just 0.4 mm long. Up to 600 parts can be printed on one single build plate. After the tooth system has been removed from the powder bed, it does not require any finishing thanks to the very high accuracy of the metal-powder-based process. Stainless steel 316L is used. Alex Berry explains: “In addition to the restrictions on geometry, conventionally milled or cast parts have a few other drawbacks. It takes a great deal of time to get to the finished prototype. In addition, the costs are very high. In 3D printing the parts are produced very quickly and at a fraction of the previous costs of prototyping. But the potential for bionic designs, reproducibility, miniaturization and not least the reduction in the number of parts and outlay on assembly is also vast. If one looks at the full spectrum of optimizing manufacturing and product design coupled with an increase in functionality, 3D printing is capable of revolutionizing medical instruments.”

automated suturing device on the build plate

Additively manufactured parts of the automated suturing device on the build plate of an Mlab cusing from Concept Laser

Outlook
Richard Trimlett and Alex Berry already see an even greater challenge on the horizon. The buzzword is artificial hearts, that is to say mechanical pumps that perform the function of the heart. The previous models have weaknesses. AM could lead to new thinking in this area. The pump could be designed to be smaller. The really intriguing thing, according to Richard Trimlett, is the possibility of integrating electromagnetic functions for moving the pump. These are just a few of the basic considerations for redesigning mechanical heart pumps. AM seems to be inspiring the experts in the field of cardiology.