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In addition to machining the implant plate itself, the VMC 3016 was employed to create a mold used to create a plastic model of the fractured bone. Taking the customized implant plate from concept to finished part requires reliable data-capture and CAD/CAM software as well as the right combination of machine tool and control.
Most technology demonstrations at trade shows focus on a particular operation or piece of equipment, but visitors to Siemens Industry, Inc. at the last IMTS were treated to something different. The company partnered with machine tool builder Republic Lagun to illustrate the entire lifecycle of a customized medical implant, from conception through design and manufacturing. Titled “An Orthopedic Process Chain—From Image to Implant,” the demo showed off the capabilities of three key technology offerings: Republic’s VMC 3016, Siemens’ new Sinumerik 828D CNC, and CAD/CAM software from Siemens’ PLM Software division.
A typical process for manufacturing a bone implant involves scanning the patient’s fracture site and using that data to create a 3D model of the bone. In turn, this model drives the design of a custom metal plate that matches the bone geometry. During the design stage, programmers create a fully dimensioned, 3D assembly of the bone and implant plate to validate the process before machining begins.
At the booth, a large storyboard offered visuals that guided visitors through the entire process. More tangible displays included the 3D models of the bone itself and the implant plate, both created within Siemens design software, as well as the plate’s actual machining on the Republic Lagun VMC from a solid blank. Finally, for demonstration purposes, the plate was matched up to a plastic model of the bone itself to illustrate the fit.
One key takeaway from the presentation was the level of capability achievable with a commodity-level machine like the VMC 3016 when combined with the right control, said Dave McGee, VP of manufacturing at Republic. “Productivity comes easy on the VMC 3016 when paired with the 828D,” he says. “This is a very powerful control with the same advanced servo performance capabilities as the 840D. It has an updated HMI and it comes with all the communication interfaces: Ethernet, USB, and CF card reader. It also has SMS text messaging capability to keep maintenance and production personnel up-to-speed on machine performance."