Following last month’s announcement with Orchid Orthopedic Solutions, we caught up with our colleagues Lauren Thompson and Neil Siddons and Orchid’s Josh Pang and Kristie West to discuss the agreement and immediate next steps.
(L-R: Lauren Thompson and Neil Siddons, GE Additive; Josh Pang and Kristie West, Orchid Orthopedic Solutions)
How does additive manufacturing factor into Orchid’s business model and growth strategy?
Josh Pang (Orchid): We’re making a significant investment to enable scalability and full production support for our customers by purchasing GE Additive EBM Spectra L systems, service agreements, AP&C metal powders and GE Additive’s AddWorks consultancy services. With the addition of this capability, we will be able to serve customers through additive manufacturing, which complements the conventional manufacturing methods we will continue to offer.
How will our work together accelerate or impact Orchid’s additive strategy?
Josh: With our extensive knowledge of large-joint orthopedic manufacturing, we will be able to serve customers like never before through this new additive manufacturing capability. The EBM machines will allow Orchid to manufacture large orthopedic implants in new ways at more competitive prices without compromising quality. As therapies and devices become more complex, this new capability allows more cost-effective manufacturing to complement traditional methods.
Why did you choose EBM?
Kristie West (Orchid): GE Additive has an excellent reputation and is a market leader in the additive space. Our customers will have the assurance that we are taking an extra level of care by partnering with GE and drawing on their expertise and know-how. We chose EBM as the additive modality we want to enter with because of GE Additive's experience with this technology, the ability to print larger parts and the speed in which it performs, compared to other additive options.
How might Orchid’s customers eventually benefit from additive?
Josh: Bringing additive manufacturing with EBM means we can offer a different way of manufacturing to customers in addition to traditional manufacturing. Through this new capability, Orchid will become the destination customers have been seeking for their end-to-end manufacturing needs. Offering an additive manufacturing option will help enable our customers’ growth and help them provide better care to the healthcare professionals and patients they serve.
What orthopedic product types are best suited to EBM?
Kristie: Once installed and operational, Orchid’s fleet of Spectra L machines will allow us to manufacture large orthopedic implants – such as femoral knee components, tibia trays and acetabular cups – more competitively.
Lauren Thompson (GE Additive): As Kristie mentions, large-joint implants such as knees, hips and shoulders are well-suited to EBM because of this modality’s ability to effectively produce the desired mechanical properties and surface porosity, while providing superior productivity. With EBM, we’re able to achieve a balance, where there is less process waste, which enables lower-cost parts compared to conventional manufacturing techniques.
Why would orthopedic OEMs elect to manufacture their large-joint implants utilizing additive manufacturing technology?
Kristie: As devices increase in complexity, this new EBM additive manufacturing capability with scalable precision will allow us to provide cost-effective manufacturing of other large orthopedic joints in addition to the conventional manufacturing we will continue to offer.
Lauren: Complexity and design flexibility is nearly free. You can achieve a robust manufacturing process for similar component families, which can be more easily validated across multiple design variants, allowing for lower overall non-recurring engineering.
Why is GE Additive excited about this agreement?
Neil Siddons (GE Additive): We already have a sizeable installed base of EBM machines across the medical space today, who understand the potential that this modality brings. We’re excited to go to market together with Orchid. When we sat down with their wider team and reviewed what they wanted to produce and their ideal business case, we knew that EBM was the best solution for them, and specifically, the Spectra L. We see our collaboration as 1+1 = 3, which will demonstrate how collaboration can add value to the wider orthopedic sector.
What will the co-marketing program entail?
Neil: There’s no better way to market products and solutions than to let customers tell their story. We look forward to working with Orchid to tell theirs. Our co-marketing activities will be anchored in thought leadership and will show the potential of additive technology for the medical industry.
What gets you excited about additive, and specifically additive in the orthopedic sector?
Josh: Orchid has a legacy of making high-quality knees and hips and applying bone in-growth coatings. Bringing additive manufacturing with EBM means we can offer a different and cost-effective way of manufacturing to our customers in addition to the traditional manufacturing we will continue to offer. Through this new capability, Orchid will continue to be the destination customers have been seeking for their end-to-end manufacturing needs. Offering an additive manufacturing option will help enable our customers’ growth and help them provide better care for the healthcare professionals and patients they serve.
Lauren: The orthopedic sector, specifically, has adopted metal additive at a speed and scale like few other markets to date. As metal additive technologies continue to mature for industrial scale, I am excited to see how our orthopedic customers are harnessing the capability of the technology to define its runway within their businesses.
The day additive becomes widely accepted across multiple industries as an equivalent manufacturing technology to casting or CNCs will be the day additive has reached primetime.
To find out more about our work with Orchid, get in touch.