NUI Galway and Loci Orthopaedics to collaborate on Enterprise Ireland project
NUI Galway and Loci Orthopaedics will join forces for an Enterprise Ireland-funded additive manufacturing project.
The Innovation Partnership Programme aims to facilitate companies in accessing skills and expertise from research institutes throughout Ireland.
Dr Eimear O’Hara, NUI Galway graduate in mechanical engineering and research fellow on the project, said: “I’m very excited to directly work with industry on this novel medical device project utilising the unique design freedoms of metal 3D-printing and our knowledge of the printing process and materials. It is fantastic to be able to design, manufacture and test novel orthopaedics devices in-house, thus enabling local start-up company growth.”
Additive manufacturing is on the rise in the global healthcare technology space. The number of orthopaedic complications and 3D-printed orthopaedic products have both increased, which has boosted demand for 3D-printed orthopaedic implants.
As the cost difference between 3D-printed and traditionally manufactured implants has declined, more device manufacturers in the musculoskeletal sector have expanded into 3D-printing. In the US, 3D-printed medical devices cleared for clinical use by the FDA increased by 400% since 2014.
In 2018, total revenue generation associated with ‘additive orthopaedics’ surpassed $500 million worldwide. This market is expected to grow at a rate of 6% per year.
“Direct industry research engagement such as this, particularly with Galway’s medtech global hub, is a critical feature of our activity in mechanical engineering,” said Dr Noel Harrison, programme director for the BE and ME programmes in mechanical engineering at NUI Galway and a funded investigator at the SFI centre I-Form.
Dr Harrison said the project “reflects the industrial relevance of 3D printing for our students and researchers. The state-of-the-art suite of printing capabilities in plastics, composites and metals in our advanced manufacturing lab continues to attract multi-sector industry and academic collaborations for material and process optimisation and provides valuable experience for our students.”
Loci’s primary product is the InDx Implant for the treatment of the common and disabling condition of thumb base joint arthritis. Its market potential is estimated to be over €600 million.