3D-printed ‘bones’ under the spotlight at Hi-Tech Awards

Madeleine Martin, general manager of Ossis, is a finalist in the Young Achiever section of the New Zealand Hi-Tech awards this year, thanks to her work producing custom designed 3D-printed titanium implants for patients with severely damaged bone and joints.

The University of Canterbury graduate says that the 3D-printed titanium alloy implants can help otherwise severely disabled people to regain their mobility and independence, with the implants having been used in more than 60 successful operations to date.

“Our first patient, who we believe was the first in the world to receive a custom designed 3D printed titanium implant, is fit and well, with the bone fully healed after her operation,” says Martin.  

“People are requesting joint replacements at a younger age, and with increasing functional expectations post-surgery. Age, genetics and obesity are not the only factors that can initiate progressive wear and tear on our bones and joints; our more extreme lifestyles often result in trauma.”

Every Ossis implant is custom-designed to the millimetre providing a level of functional precision that off-the-shelf technology cannot.

“Instead of surgeons piecing together off-the-shelf products during an operation and cutting away valuable bone to make an implant fit, we can work with surgeons to design the perfectly fitting implant prior to the operation.”

“We then create an exact plastic model of the implant on our 3D printer to allow the surgeon to practice on and refer to in surgery. This process significantly reduces the operation time and makes life a lot easier for the surgeon.”

The Hi-Tech Awards are judged by around 40 local judges, including some of New Zealand’s most successful technologists and entrepreneurs, and are joined by a strong line-up of international judges including renowned American business strategist, Gary Hamel; co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak; founder of Massive, Claudia Batten; Director of Engineering for Google in New York, Craig Nevill-Manning; Senior Vice President for Cisco, Howard Charney; Xero CMO Andy Lark; and Managing Director for IDG Ventures, Pat Kenealy.

Winners will be named in Wellington on May 15.

Photo: Madeleine Martin