Québec’s CRIQ selects GE Additive Arcam EBM to explore use of additive for patient-specific jaw reconstruction

October 26, 2018

A focused additive strategy, combined with a solid business case strives to create a positive, cost-efficient impact on Canada’s healthcare system   

CRIQ is a state-owned organization dedicated to industrial research and innovation that reports to Québec’s minister of the economy, science, and innovation.  For close to 50 years CRIQ has built a reputation for being the expert in industrial productivity and competitiveness and provides the most extensive range of innovation services available in Québec. 


Focused Additive Strategy and a System-Level Business Case

In 2016, CRIQ joined CHU de Quebec – a regional medical partnership of five hospitals in the province - focused on uncovering and developing groundbreaking technologies to positively impact medical technology and ultimately improve patients’ lives.  

Through the medical partnership and ongoing dialogue with cranio-maxillofacial surgeons, a team led by François Gingras, CRIQ’s director of industrial equipment, will initially focus on applying additive technologies to transform how patient-specific lower jawbone implants are designed and manufactured.  

This focus on managing the entire design and process cycle as well as validation and medical certification that will allow CRIQ to eventually offer a three-week turnaround of patient-specific implants - compared to the current six weeks required when using traditional manufacturing.

In collaboration with CHU de Quebec’s team, the entire supply chain is being managed by the CRIQ team and covers:

  1. Design and CAD drawing of implants 
  2. Printing of the implant and post-processing
  3. Cleaning and sterilization

This allows CRIQ to define and influence pre-processing, design, testing, and fabrication systems and ensure consistency and repeatability. 
The process of medical certification of additively manufactured mandibles through Health Canada commenced in October 2017 and completion of the certification requirements is expected by January 2020 - when CRIQ can enter full production. 

This focused approach, challenges the perception that patient-specific implants are too expensive and not a good business case for additive manufacturing.  CRIQ sees the business case for patient-specific implants at a system level and looking at how to improve patient lives and lower overall costs. This cannot be measured at an implant by implant level but must be done at a system level. 

“The business case isn’t in a part-to-part comparison; it needs to be justified through system-wide impact. If a patient-specific implant can accelerate patient recovery, reduce risk, and lower overall healthcare costs for the Quebec Government, then we have a business case,” said François Gingras.


Accelerating the Additive Journey

As part of its additive strategy CRIQ has recently selected a GE Additive Arcam EBM Q10plus machine, which has been installed at its 3D printing laboratory in Québec, since June 2018. 

CRIQ had previously invested in metal additive manufacturing equipment to explore the potential R&D applications for this emerging technology, but the investment in electron beam melting technology allows them to accelerate their additive journey.

“The medical device industry is one of the pioneer industries of additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing enables companies to manufacture patient-specific implants and customized devices in small batch production, but still in a cost-effective, industrial process.  This way, the technology perfectly serves the trend for more individualized treatments in healthcare,” said Stephan Zeidler, business development manager medical, GE Additive.

“Improved patient care in orthopedics, implantology and dentistry demands high-precision, perfectly fitting medical products. In medical and dental technology, there is a demand for parts produced individually or in small batches which must satisfy extremely high-quality standards regarding materials and workmanship,” he added.

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