Aug 27, 2021
What has it meant for Luxinergy to enter this project? How did the collaboration come about?
For Luxinergy, Inkplant represents a great opportunity to further expand its existing know-how in the field of biocompatible materials. Currently, Luxinergy focuses mainly on the development of resin systems for the additive manufacturing of orthoses, which are class 1 medical devices (skin contact). In the Inkplant project, these materials are to be further developed and tested for the direct printing of implants. This will enable Luxinergy to expand its product portfolio in the medium term and open up new markets. Luxinergy is very well integrated into the Austrian research community and was therefore contacted by the consortium leader Profactor to participate in this very exciting project.
The founders of Luxinergy have extensive experience in the field and have published dozens of articles. What are the most revealing results to date?
In my opinion, the most interesting results are directly connected with the aims of Inkplant. In recent publications, we could show that our developed resins provide high biocompatibility and biodegradability in the cured state. These are the two most important prerequisites for the realization of bioresorbable implants. Moreover, we were able to selectively adjust the degradation behavior of these polymeric materials by the choice of the used monomers. This paves the way for customized scaffolds and implants where the degradation behavior can be adapted to individual requirements.
To what extent does the future of regenerative medicine go through your lines of research? That is, will we soon talk about medicine in which implants are made only with biomaterials and 3D printers?
The development of 3D printable resins for regenerative medicine will be a strong focus of Luxinergy and my research group at the University of Leoben in the future. I am confident that the production of medical implants will change in the next ten years significantly, as indicated by the enormous research efforts in this field. Although there are many reports on the successful implantation of metallic and ceramic scaffolds, there is only a little experience with the use of biodegradable implants based on photopolymers. I am convinced that the research in Inkplant will help to change this.
At what stage is your participation in INKplant currently? Have you achieved any results so far?
So far, we have been optimizing the printing behavior of our resins. Luxinergy's patented resin systems have mainly been developed for stereolithography. Within the framework of Inkplant, it is planned to process the formulations in 3D ink-jet printing. For this, resins with suitable physicochemical properties (viscosity, surface tension) must be developed in the first step. We are very proud that successful printing trials have already been carried out with our newly developed formulations.
To what types of patients and ailments are you directing your research the most?
Luxinergy focuses on the development of biodegradable photopolymers that can be used for the production of bone scaffolds and implants. This means that large bone defects caused by an accident, or a tumor can be treated with such implants. 3D printing makes it possible to produce these medical devices in a time-efficient and customized manner, thus optimizing the patient's treatment.
Two of the biggest challenges in the field of orthotics are comfort and speed. How are you facing those?
The conventional production of trunk orthoses, which are usually used to treat scoliosis of especially young girls can take up to 3 weeks due to many production steps. In contrast, Luxinergy's printer technology enables such medical devices to be printed within 24 hours. In addition, the freedom of design offered by digital manufacturing means that orthoses can be manufactured with reduced weight and increased breathability. In the future, this will help to increase patient compliance and make orthosis fitting more comfortable, especially for children and young adults.
The launch of your first orthopedic device is scheduled for 2022. Can you tell us more about your market entry?
By 2022, Luxinergy plans to bring the printer systems for orthoses to the market. We are currently testing our technology at selected partner companies specialized in orthopedic technology, which already produce orthoses for selected patients. It is planned that in 2022, customers in Austria will be the first to be addressed. Moreover, Luxinergy's technology will be presented in cooperation with partners at the Expo in Dubai in 2022 and at OT World in Leipzig.