Dual-laser 3D printer enables medical device firm to expand product range

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RMS' production of spinal implants benefits from high-repeatability and 24/7 production of modern 3D printers. (Image: 3D Sytems)

RMS, one of the largest contract manufacturers of high-quality, tight-tolerance medical devices in the world, has invested in a dual-laser 3D printer to further expand its production workflow.

RMS delivers complete “Powder to Package” capability for medical device OEMs – encompassing the entire manufacturing and post-processing workflow required to go from a digital file to a sterilised and packaged final product ready for the surgical suite. 

Despite already owning more than 30 DMP 3D printers from additive firm 3D Systems, RMS has invested in a DMP Flex 350 Dual system, which it says will enable it to expand the types of implants it produces.

The investment will also enable the firm to accelerate its throughput, with the system overall helping it better address the evolving application needs of the medical industry.

Over the course of four years, 3D Systems has helped RMS expand its portfolio of direct metal printers from one machine to more than 30, backed by a process that ensures repeatability across machines and supply chains – highlighted in a recent webinar as being key to enabling true scaled series production.

As a result, RMS has been able to cement its reputation for additively manufacturing high-quality titanium implants. With the addition of the DMP Flex 350 Dual, which enables up to 50% productivity increases compared to single-laser systems, RMS will be able to increase throughput for smaller implants including those intended for spinal applications. The firm believes the same productivity increases will also open new opportunities in the production of large joint and extremity implants while allowing flexibility for existing projects.

“The increase in efficiency we get from the DMP Flex 350 Dual system creates new opportunities for larger and taller parts which were economically challenging with a single laser system,” said Ryan Kircher, senior additive manufacturing engineer at RMS. “Another key reason RMS decided to invest in a DMP Flex 350 Dual is that it is engineered in a way that allows us to produce the high precision, high-quality products we expect from our current installation of DMP systems without changing the processing parameters we validated when we initially developed our AM capabilities. This will allow us to explore not only new products but also reduce production times and costs on the products we are already making today.”

RMS has added a DMP Flex 350 Dual printer to its current fleet of 30 DMP 3D systems, which it says will expand the types of implants it can produce while accelerating throughput.

“A key element of our process flow is the reliability and performance we get from our stable of 30-plus 3D Systems’ DMP ProX 320 and DMP Flex 350 machines,” said Troy Olson, director of operations at RMS’ additive manufacturing division. “Uptime on these machines is crucial for us to maintain our customer commitments. Our printers operate on a 24/7 production cadence, which leaves little room for downtime. 3D Systems has taken these first-in-class single laser platforms and have expanded on that technology with the DMP Flex 350 Dual. During our validation process, the DMP Flex 350 Dual showed no measurable differences in mechanical properties or dimensional accuracy. We are excited to add this new capability to our existing printing operation.”

The DMP Flex 350 Dual is the most recent addition to 3D Systems’ Direct Metal Printing (DMP) portfolio. This dual-laser configuration maintains the benefits of the single-laser configuration including flexible application use and quick-swap build modules, and a central server to manage print jobs, materials, settings, and maintenance for 24/7 productivity. Additionally, the company’s unique vacuum chamber significantly reduces argon gas consumption while delivering best-in-class oxygen purity (<25 ppm). The printer also includes Oqton’s 3DXpert — the all-in-one software for industrial additive manufacturing that enables efficient preparation, optimization, lattice generation, and 3D printing of high-quality parts by streamlining the workflow from design to printing.

“Our collaboration with RMS has spanned several years, and during that time rms has grown at a rate and scale that is truly impressive,” said Menno Ellis, executive vice president, healthcare solutions, 3D Systems. “They have not only delivered excellent solutions to the medical device community but have also grown their in-house additive knowledge, helping guide the industry to a more mature and robust position. Today, RMS is expanding upon its capabilities and capacity with the addition of the DMP Flex 350 Dual. I look forward to seeing how this will enhance the breadth of applications they will be able to address for their customers, and the impact it will have for growth.”

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