Feb 21, 2024

3D Printing Micro – Medical Devices

Driving Trends

The use of Micro 3D printing is eminent to allow, drive and speed up development of medical devices, development of microfluidics and medical research.

microfluidic channels
Microfluidics: 3D printed on Fabrica Tera

Several very strong trends are driving the adoption of micro-AM for medical uses:

  • Rising demand for small components due to more minimally invasive surgeries
  • Customization of devices and models specifically to each patient
  • Push for miniaturization of medical devices
  • Growth of Microfluidics in research

Unlike traditional methods like micro injection molding or CNC machining, which are costly and limited by tooling requirements, 3D printing allows for intricate geometries without assembly hassles. This capability reduces both time and effort, leading to faster development compared to traditional techniques.

Micro Needles

micro needles 3d printed

Various designs of micro needles for different purposes have been created using Fabrica Micro AM solutions. Some are intended for drug delivery, while others are for collecting skin cells. The Nano Dimension Fabrica systems allow for the simultaneous production of hundreds of micro needles on a single build plate in a matter of hours, ensuring smooth, high- quality, and sharp precise tips.

Tray of 400 micro needles for skin cells collection, printed in just 15 hours

Microfluidic Chips

Nano Dimension and Technical University Munich collaborated on developing a scalable droplet microfluidic workflow for generating patient-derived organoids (PDOs) at the Center for Functional Protein Assemblies (CPA). The challenge involved achieving micron-level accuracy in fabricating channels for proper fluid behavior without channel occlusion. Traditional methods proved laborious and limited in scalability, prompting the adoption of micro 3D printing technology from Nano Dimension’s Fabrica product line. The successful fabrication of a functional droplet microfluidic device highlighted the benefits of a monolithic design, simplifying cleaning and sterilization procedures while minimizing inter-experimental variations. This collaboration represents a significant advancement in droplet microfluidics, promising groundbreaking discoveries in protein assemblies and cancer biology, and heralds a new era of efficiency and innovation in biomedical research.

Microfludic Chip 3d printed for research in protein

Personal Medical Device Miniaturization

Two significant trends in healthcare are driving the demand for very small parts, particularly micro AM parts: the growing use of miniature medical devices and the increasing acceptance of wearable medical devices.

Torramics, a user of the Nano Dimension Fabrica Giga system, provides a compelling example of this trend by developing a small, disposable, electronic drug delivery device called the Torramics nanoPatch, based on nanoPump technology from NASA. This device offers a convenient, reliable, and cost-effective treatment for chronic conditions such as diabetes. By leveraging Micro AM, Torramics has shortened their development cycle from over one week to less than 24 hours, at less than 10% of the cost.

Component for miniaturized insulin pump.
Courtesy: Torramics

Medical Research

In addition to research conducted with Microfluidics, intensive medical research benefits from Fabrica Micro AM capabilities. A team of researchers from France and Canada, including the University of Bordeaux, IMN: Neurodegeneratives Diseases Institute, the CERVO Research Center in Québec, and University Laval, aimed to produce a medical device capable of measuring neuronal activity in the spinal cord of a freely moving mouse. Recording the electrical activity of neurons in this region was challenging due to the movements induced by walking and breathing. To address this, they designed a brace attached to the vertebra to hold two electrodes in place. Fabrica Micro-AM enabled the rapid and cost-effective production of this part with holes for the electrodes measuring 110 um and a width of 2.7 mm. Fabrica M810 resin, cleared for cytotoxicity[1] was used.

Experience the remarkable achievement of capturing electrical signals within the dynamic spinal cord of a moving mouse. Delve into the intricacies of this groundbreaking feat in neuroscience research, unveiling the complexities of recording real-time electrical activity in motion

Prototyping, manufacturing and molds for production

Fabrica Micro AM is ideal not only for prototyping medical device components and microfluidic chips but also for producing large quantities of parts, as demonstrated in the micro needle example.

Furthermore, it can print molds or mold inserts for micro parts, which can then be used with micro injection molding solutions to create parts from a wider variety of thermoplastics. An example of this is Fabrica customer Accumold, who created a plunger for a medical device by printing the mold on the Fabrica system and then injecting it using polypropylene material. The smooth surface of the printed mold ensures both a perfect end part and an easy injection process, facilitating the easy ejection of the end part from the mold.

Injection molding mcad render from above
Injection molding mcad render from below

[1] M810 was tested according to ISO 10993 – part 5: Tests for in vitro cytotoxicity and was found to be non-cytotoxic. EN ISO 10993 defines the series of standards for evaluating the biocompatibility of medical devices.

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