Orthopedic Implants, Part 4 – Finishers Meet Standards, Face New Challenges

While choosing the right implant material is of utmost importance, as discussed in our previous Orthopedic Implant Series post, the significance of optimum surface treatment throughout the entire implant manufacturing process cannot be overstated. This relates not only to the right surface finish, but also total compliance with the specified tight dimensional tolerances.

The functionality of an orthopedic implant is determined by the perfect match between the various implant components. This depends, to a large extent, on the surface treatment procedure(s).

With extensive experience in the medical industryRosler is an expert in designing systems and solutions for the treatment of joint reconstruction implants utilizing shot blasting and mass finishing technologies.

Our Orthopedic Implant Series continues with an overview of the stringent finishing standards for orthopedic implants.

Stringent Finishing Requirements

For the comfort of patients and effectiveness of the components, orthopedic implants must be finished to precise specifications.

The most important finishing requirements are:

  • The elimination of sharp edges or burrs to prevent rupturing of blood ves­sels and blood clots during implantation and to expedite the healing process.
  • An extremely smooth, polished surface on the implant ar­eas that are interacting with each other, with Ra readings of less than 1.0 microinches (= 0.025 μm).
  • A textured, somewhat rougher surface finish on ar­eas that are implanted into the bone to promote osseo­integration.
  • Absolutely clean surfaces without any contamination to prevent infections.
  • A slightly textured surface as preparation for surface coatings.
  • Longevity, i.e. improved resistance against tensile and bending stress. This is achieved through shot peening.
  • Maintaining critical component dimensions during the various finishing operations.
Hip implant

Emerging Technology

Additive manufacturing is rapidly evolving from a purely prototyping method into a full-fledged manufacturing sys­tem, and there is little doubt this trend will continue. This trend has also reached the orthopedic implant industry as hip implants as well as knee, other joint replacements, and spinal implants are already made through additive manufacturing.

While there is great potential in additive manufacturing, these components currently pose enor­mous finishing challenges. In addition to removing the support structures and sintered metal particles, significantly higher surface roughness must be processed.

The initial surface roughness of a 3D print­ed component can be as high as Ra = 2,000 micro inches (= 50 μm), while the initial surface roughness of a cast or forged part amounts “only” to Ra = 120 – 320 micro inches (= 3 to 8 μm). Since it promotes bone growth, the higher surface roughness is an advantage for surface areas im­planted into the bone yet challenging for surface areas that must be extremely smooth.

Additively manufactured components before and after processing
Additively manufactured components before and after processing

The Rosler Way

No matter what condition your orthopedic implants start in or the material used, Rosler can help you find a better way and achieve the exact finish needed every time. Contact us to discuss your unique challenges and allow Rosler to deliver the solution.

Previous posts in the Orthopedic Implant Series include:

Upcoming posts in the series will include:

  • Part 5 – “Mass Finishing Offers Medical-Grade Polishing.”
  • Part 6 – “Shot Blasting Improves Longevity.”
  • Part 7 – “Processing Technology Evolves with Industry Advancements.”

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