Jul 5, 2021
One of Lithoz's website claim says that "A vision can only be turned into reality through determined collaboration". Is this why you joined INKplant?
Absolutely! For developing breakthrough innovations, it is always necessary to partner up with other specialists and INKplant provides the ideal framework for collaboration with experts with complementary knowhow from other technical areas.
When common people think about ceramics, think about a nice vessel on their dining room table. However, you're using them in the manufacture of the next generation of implants. Could you explain the benefits of ceramic materials for this purpose?
We at Lithoz are focusing on high-performance ceramic materials, which are very different from classical ceramics such as tableware or sanitary ware. These high-performance ceramic components are used in many high-end applications from automotive and aerospace via high-power electronics to medical applications.
Why is it important to combine bioresorbable and bioinert ceramics for advanced implants?
Both bioinert and bioresorbable ceramic have their merits and limits for implants: bioresorbable ceramics are from a chemical point of view basically identical to the inorganic portion of bone; thus, the human body is capable of resorbing and remodeling this material into native bone tissue. However, they are rather brittle and thus are difficult to use in load-bearing applications. Bioinert ceramics on the other hand provide excellent mechanical properties but cannot be remodeled into bone tissue again.
By combining both materials we try to get the best from both worlds: a small portion of bioinert ceramic shall provide the mechanical strength for the implant while most of the implant will be made from bioresorbable ceramic that will be degraded and absorbed over time, allowing bone to grow back and replace the implant without the need for further surgery.
How is it possible for an implant to adapt to the body and grow?
It is all about the chemistry! Ceramic implants made from tricalcium phosphate or hydroxy apatite resemble the inorganic chemistry of bone tissue, which is why these materials can be resorbed and transformed into bone by the body. These newly formed bone tissue is then capable of growing and adapting to surrounding stimuli in the same way the original bone is.
Lithoz will use a novel 3D printing platform for INKplant, what does it consist of? How is it different from other existing printing processes?
The new printing platform allows the simultaneous printing of 2 different ceramics. It employs the same basic principle as the other Lithoz printers based on Lithography-based Ceramic Manufacturing (LCM). The main differences are that the new platform has a second material reservoir, so that 2 different ceramics can be used, and that it employs an automated cleaning stage during the printing process to avoid cross-contamination between the 2 ceramic materials.
In your opinion, what are other cool applications people can expect from 3D printing technology in a near future?
With multi-material printing, as it is developed within INKplant, other material combinations will also be made possible in the future. Especially, the combination of certain ceramics and metals can open up completely new application and further advance the versatility of this 3D printing process.