Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

Improved Micro-Implants through Laser Sintering

The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has started a new project which plans on using laser micro-sintering to change the surface of implants, for example to improve attachment to surrounding tissue or to deposit medications on the implant surface.

The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) plans on using laser sintering* to improve the surface of micro-implants, for example for use in the circulatory system (stents), or in the eye, throat, nose, or ear. The goal of a new research project is to produce a porous structure on chosen areas of an implant surface. On the one hand, this structure can improve attachment to the surrounding tissue, and on the other hand medication can be deposited there.

This is necessary, especially for extremely small implants, since integration into the surrounding tissue is limited, due to the small surface of the implant. Apart from that, the implant surface offers very little room for deposition of medications which can have a positive effect on acceptance of the implant in the human body, or for medications which can prevent infections.

"Laser sintering can be used to modify the implant surface in a very specific manner," explains Matthias Gieseke, engineer at the LZH. "We hope to make the optimal structure for a number of applications."

First of all, the requirements on the surface of the implant have to be defined, followed by investigations on generating the layers using laser sintering, and testing the structured implant. In the course of the project, automation and standardization of the laser sintering process and new materials and implants will also be developed.

The laser sintering project is in cooperation with the Institute for Biomedical Technology at the medical faculty of the University of Rostock, as part of the project "REMEDIS". REMEDIS is supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, with the goal of using micro-implants to improve the life quality of chronically ill people. The project manager is the Jülich Forschungszentrum.

*Laser sintering builds up a workpiece layer by layer, by melting a powdered material. The individual powder particles absorb the laser energy and are fused together. Almost any three-dimensional shape can be produced using laser sintering.