Symbionica is a collaborative project funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme that focuses on the manufacturing of personalized smart endo-prosthetics and exo-prosthetics that require geometric and functional customization. The concept integrates an innovative machine performing multi-material Additive Manufacturing deposition and ablation. It exploits the process of Direct Energy Deposition (DED) for metal deposition, where focused thermal energy coming from a laser source is used to fuse metallic powders blown through a nozzle thanks to an assisting gas, and the process of Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), in which a part is built layer-by-layer by heating and extruding a thermoplastic filament. For the first-time ablation technology complements the AM fabrication process for metal manufacturing to allow surface finishing, micro texturing and micro drilling that would be otherwise unfeasible in traditional machines. Moreover, Symbionica presents an advanced closed loop control methodology for product and process quality monitoring.
The Symbionica machine presents a platform with 5 degrees of freedom, a Z axis with 1200 mm linear travel, X and Y axes with linear travel of 800 mm, a rototilting table with Ø600 mm. The whole cabin has a 4000x4000x3000 mm max dimensions with a completely sealing for inert environment.
Current generation implants have been redesigned and optimized for Symbionica processes. All these components can be fully customised in their functionalities during the design and manufacturing stages. The prosthesis can be specifically created for each patient directly from a 3D computer model resulting from post processing of the patient’s scan, which will be completed by additional information related to the patient’s height, weight, physical training and habits.
The demonstrators use cases of the projects are respectively a Dorso Lumbar Body Cage (Sintea Plustek), a multi-material knee prosthesis (Medacta International SA) and hip implant (Medacta International SA) made in Cobalt-Chrome, Titanium and PEEK and a multi-material prosthetic foot (Ottobock).
Symbionica also offers a supply chain distributed Co-engineering platform, a single point of access for Symbionica workflow enabling seamless interaction between various actors of the prosthesis value, a stand-alone tool managing medical images, CAD files manipulation, customized designs, build volumes, tool paths and manufacturing files.