CSIRO’s titanium printing experts have teamed up with dental company Oventus to create a titanium mouthguard to treat sleep apnoea.
Sleep apnoea affects about an estimated one million Australians. It can cause snoring and, in some cases, for a sufferer to stop breathing.
According to the research organisation’s blog, creating one of the devices involves scanning a patient’s mouth, creating a CAD file from this, followed by an additively manufactured mouthpiece based on the file. The titanium is coated in a medical grade plastic.
“When Oventus came to us with this idea, we were really excited,” said John Barnes, the CSIRO’s Titanium Technologies Theme Leader.
“We can print up to ten of these in a print run, which takes about 8 hours. It’s an exciting prospect for people suffering from the debilitating disorder and the design offers significant benefits which cannot be achieved with more traditional manufacturing techniques.”
The device uses a “duckbill” design, channelling air into two passages towards the back of the throat and avoiding blockages.
The CSIRO predicts the devices will be available in 2015 after further trials.
The CSIRO’s titanium additive manufacturing centre at Lab 22 was opened in 2012 and uses an Arcam machine. It has been in the news in the last year for for creating things including horse orthotics, giant bugs and a dragon.
Image, video: CSIRO