Stryker to build factory for additively manufactured titanium implants

US-based medical technology company Stryker has said it will build a state-of-the-art facility for titanium 3D printing, which it says will bolster its range of medical implants.

The Michigan-based Fortune 500 company’s CEO and outgoing CFO told an earnings call that the new facility – no location or specifics were given – would create new products. It would partially account for a high level of capital expenditure, $US 400 – $US 450 million, this year, notes Fierce Medical Devices.

"For the foreseeable future, at least the next three, four years or so, our focus is really on innovative new products and not replacing our existing products with 3-D printed products," said CEO Kevin Lobo.

"The pipeline of innovative new geometries that can't be made without 3-D printing is the area of focus."

The company will bring out a 3D printed titanium interbody device spinal implant this year, with the porosity of the product encouraging bony in-growth, according to Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry Online.

Spine and cement-less knee implants were examples given of existing products that could be improved with metal additive manufacturing.

However, metal 3D printing of hips and knees would not be easy, which would not happen in the next few years but maybe in a decade, said Lobo.

“It requires a lot of extra programming. You just don't buy a machine and just sort off to the races …," he said, according to a transcript of the call from Seeking Alpha.

"I would just say that it's more complicated than plastics or other things that you read about in the mainstream press and that’s why for us, our focus is much more on innovative new products and not necessarily replacing total systems that will be many, many, many years ahead of us."