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Vinnova has granted funding to Innventia for the AMPOFORM project where, together with four other companies, it will develop technical solutions for printing 3D prostheses manufactured from forest raw materials.
“Our goal is to combine 3D printing with cellulose-based materials for additive manufacturing of prostheses,” says Li Yang, a Project Manager in Graphic Technology and Optical Calibration at Innventia. “Through this, we will bring together both materials and technology that are at the forefront of development, something that is an exciting challenge. At the same time, we want to create a new value chain for healthcare, with various businesses working together on several fronts.”
The production of prostheses currently mainly uses fossil-based materials, such as thermoplastics and carbon fibre. The manufacturing process is often complicated, requiring a lot of manual work and experience. The AMPOFORM project intends to simplify prosthesis manufacturing, something that will save time for both technicians and patients. The ability to undertake individual customisation will increase significantly, while manufacturing costs will fall and the prostheses themselves will become more environmentally friendly.
“With this project, we want to contribute to the long-term sustainability of the public healthcare sector,” continues Yang. “The use of bio-based materials in 3D printers also opens up the possibility of other products that were previously impossible or too expensive to manufacture in the traditional manner. Our vision is for Sweden to become a global leader in additive manufacturing in the long term.”
According to Innventia, nanocellulose and carbon fibre from lignin, among other materials, will be used in 3D printers for the prostheses. Additive manufacturing involves less consumption of materials and this, together with the time savings, also provides economic benefits. Overall, prosthesis manufacturing costs can be reduced by up to 50 per cent.
“Improving the properties of 3D structures is one of the challenges of the project. We will also evaluate both the 3D-printer technology and the production process and marketing requirements within the healthcare sector,” concludes Yang.
Innventia is the co-ordinator for the project, which runs from June 2016 to May 2019. Other participants are Stora Enso, Wematter, Fillauer Europe and Orthotics/Region Örebro County, all with leading expertise in both biobased materials and 3D printers and prostheses and orthotics. Of the total budget of SEK 11 million, 44 per cent is being provided by Vinnova.
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