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DidierKlein

Use of PLA for surgical pins

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Hi all,

I'm currently doing some research on 3d printers and I think I will probably but an Ultimaker 2 in the following days.

One of the uses I plan to have for this printer is to print surgical pins for animal surgeries. I have found on internet that PLA is used to do this but I'm wondering if the PLA filaments we can use with the printers are the same as those used in Medicine...

The pins would mainly be targeted towards small animals like chihuawas or rabbits. Used for broken bones surgeries.

The idea also is that the pins would degrade themselves after a couple of months i read that this degradation could occur between 12 to 24 months in the suitable environment.

If anyone here with a good knowledge of the product has the answer?

Thank you all, i'm looking forward to be a member of your community.

Ps: Sorry for the english, if something isn't clear please tell me.

 

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I would NOT use the plastic used in 3D printers inside animals... While the type of plastic may be the same there's no way of knowing what kind of contaminants are in there since this plastic isn't manufactured to be used in that way.

Not only that, what about basic things like keeping every step of the process and the machine itself completely sterile? I mean, you don't go digging around inside animals with knives you have lying around on the kitchen table, right?

 

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Of course the printed parts would have to be sterilized. There are powders and treatments to be done before implanting the parts inside.

Maybe the issue here is that the fact that the component is printed in layers which are not sterile would be a problem when it degrades?

Just for information i'm planning this with my wife and one of her friends (they are both Vets).

 

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Yes, that's what I was thinking. But also there's the issue of knowing exactly what's in the plastic itself. We can't know that it's absolutely pure PLA. Who knows what they might accidentally drop in the hopper or what they've ran through the machine other than PLA. There might be some sort of lubricants used on internal parts that might seep into the plastic etc.

That said, maybe there are suppliers of PLA filament suitable for 3d printers that are manufactured to the standards needed for implantation?

 

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I don't think any of the above is true. You could certainly sterilize the components of the machine, and you could probably even create a sterile build environment which the machine printed in.

There are also plenty of PLA producers who are more than willing to give you all the details of how they produce their filament, and would probably even be willing to produce a few Kg that were made custom to your spec. if you felt it warranted.

You could also just purchase your own pure PLA pellets direct from Natureworks or Diamond Age and extrude your own sterilized, controlled, filament if you had the desire.

I don't know anything about PLA degradation though.

 

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Maybe I'm overly critical but I just tend to go on "high alert" when there's talk about putting stuff into living creatures, be it animals or humans.

 

This.

As far as I know, PLA slowly dissolves inside a body, which is why it is used for medical goals. However, this would mean any additives would be left behind.

I would not recommend it, as I would also expect problems really getting stuff sterile.

 

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I would use "natural" PLA with no colors or dyes or additives. Some dyes are a bit toxic. I would also contact the manufacturer and tell them my plans and ask about possible contaminants.

As far as sterilization is concerned, the printing temperature of over 180C is a big plus.

Then if you sterilize again after the part is printed I think you won't have to worry about bacteria, viri or fungi. Beware that PLA has a glass temperature of around 50-60C so you can't sterilize it with heat after it has been printed as you don't want to heat it above 50C. You could use alcohol.

I agree that there may be unknown chemicals mixed with the PLA but there is a good chance that this is safe. I just wouldn't want to try it on my own pet.

Many people touch PLA printed objects with their fingers and then later put their fingers in their mouths. I suspect PLA is relatively safe inside an animal because it breaks down very slowly so any toxins would be released very gradually.

 

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I suggest that you need to check your government’s/medical governing body’s regulations on this and probably find a filament with appropriate certification.

For example 3Dprinting is used in the dental industry but that seems to be specialised and expensive stuff (the printers). If you go to a major manufacturer site like Stratysys you will probably find details on their medical product and maybe information on the type of material they use.

For example Taulman t-glasse nylon filament, which can be used on our printers, has American FDA certification to be used with food containers. That is the only filament I have seen with certification – for coming into contact with food, not for inserting into some poor rabbit!

If you search the Net you will find a variety of medical institutions working with 3Dprinting – that might help you find a way forward – but I am sure that anything usable will need to be certified.

 

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I don't really see how you could properly sterilize a printed part with all its layers.

 

Just the fact that you are printing at temperatures well over 150C should be enough to sterilize anything in-between layers.

 

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Thank you all for your answers :)

I was thinking about the sterilisation issue yesterday and as gr5 said the high temperature should be enough to sterilize the layers of the object.

Just to let you know PLA is already used a lot in surgery for example some of the sutures or stents check this article for example: http://www.plasticsnews.com/article/20130809/NEWS/130809917/abbott-to-bring-pla-stent-to-united-states

After the component is build the external surface can be sterilized using a chemical process which shouldn't change the composition.

I'm not planning to make animals suffer :) I understand why some of you seem to be against this idea, i love animals and that's why i'm asking more information.

The natural PLA (without coloring) seems to be a good start for a product without any added stuff, if someone has a link with some quality natural filaments?

 

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Hello all,

Thank you for all the answers :)

I thought I answered this morning but it seems i did something wrong (or my message wasn't accepted by a moderator). Sorry if i double post.

I was thinking about the sterilization issue yesterday and like gr5 said the high temperature should be enough to sterilize the inner layers.

After build the component should be sterilized using a chemical procedure (this was told by a Vet).

The use of Natural PLA is a good point I think reducing the possibilities of unwanted added materials like for colouring this should reduce the risk. If anybody has an idea where to find such PLA let me know.

One more thing, I'm not willing to harm animals the purpose here is to help them :)

 

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Recommendations on PLA change depending what country you are in. Could you mention that *and* add your country to your profile?

http://reprap.org/wiki/Printing_Material_Suppliers

http://diamondage.co.nz/?wpsc-product=3mm-pla-diamond

http://www.faberdashery.co.uk/products-page/print-materials/crystal-clear/

Some PLA manufacturers are higher quality than others. There are many things that can make PLA difficult to print but the most important to pay attention to is the diameter of the filament - 3mm filament is usually 2.85mm. Sometimes however it actually comes at 3mm and if it has a small variance to 3.05mm it will get stuck in the bowden tube. Most printers don't care, but the Ultimaker design has the extruder on the back of the machine where it is compressed slightly "out of round". Because of this most printers can print 3.05mm filament fine, but not Ultimaker.

 

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I think the biggest problem you have is trying to make the environment sterile so that whatever comes out of the extruder isn't contaminated when the plastic cools. PLA is deemed food safe: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7737601

[hmmm. this editor is having issues with links] but it seems that internal uses isn't without issue: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19250160

Here's a link with a vendor listed:

http://forums.reprap.org/read.php?194,198904

gr5 edit: fixed above link

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Your assumption was correct. We, the moderators, were a bit slow in accepting your post(s). Timezones and all that ya know ;) I decided to accept both your answers to bump up your post count hehe.

 

Thanks and sorry for my impatience ^^

To answer gr5, i'm from Belgium.

I understood that the Ultimaker only accepts 2.85mm filaments, so i guess this make the search for the perfect filament even harder :)

I'm currently sniffing around the entire web to find it, I'll have a look at your links.

Another "stupid" question: Do you think the UM2 is a good choice for this kind of use? I'm also planning to use it for other stuff with less constraints like lamps or decorative stuff.

 

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I understood that the Ultimaker only accepts 2.85mm filaments, so i guess this make the search for the perfect filament even harder

 

90% of the time when a manufacturer says "3mm" it is actually "2.85mm". So if it isn't clear on the website, send them an email.

 

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Thanks gr5 :)

After taking some advice of someone working in supplies for human surgeries I now know that the process of creating some materials that should go inside an animal (or human) takes at least 8 to 10 years to complete... so i guess I'll have the time to find the correct way to do this.

In the meanwhile i guess the offer in materials and printers should be different.

Anyway i'm still planning to buy an UM2 for other purposes that are less time-consuming in procedures for external use on animal (prothesis) or instruments for surgeries.

Thank you all for you answers this community is one of the reasons I feel confortable with my choice of Ultimaker

 

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Just the fact that you are printing at temperatures well over 150C should be enough to sterilize anything in-between layers.

 

Without being a medical expert, but it seems like it would be hard to say for sure because there are bacteria that can withstand high temperatures for short periods of time, and the material cools very rapidly. I think it is something that would need a good deal of study to know for sure.

 

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