The Monash scientists who led the creation of the world’s first 3D-printed jet engine in 2015 are now improving the design and cost of manufacturing medical implants, surgical tools, aerospace components, and more.
They’ve been working with surgeons to design tools for specific operations, to replace ‘one-size-fits-all’ tools currently available.
Printed tools can be made lighter, with a hollow centre – a boon for
the nurses who sometimes have to hold trays of heavy tools for up to eight hours during surgery. And they can be made from special alloys that reduce their slipperiness if coated in blood during surgery.
Printing also allows implants – tailored to each patient’s body – to be created within 24 hours after design, compared to the several months that traditional manufacturing may need.
The Monash team are already working to aerospace standards, which are even more rigorous than those necessary for medical devices.
“The tools we’re able to print can reduce surgery times and improve the level of specialised care for patients,” says project leader Professor Xinhua Wu, of the Monash Centre for Additive Manufacturing.
Signature Orthopaedics, a medical device company based in Sydney, has already commenced working with the team at Monash, with a view to longer term engagement.
The Centre’s work on the jet engine in 2015, collaborating with scientists from CSIRO and Deakin University, has led to a joint-venture between Amaero Engineering, Monash University and a European aerospace company.