Patented 3D Printed Orthopedic Implants Feature in Massive $84 Million Manufacturing Plant

3D Implant Printing
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A chance meeting between a customer service specialist and an orthopedic surgeon several years ago, has coalesced into a powerful, privately-held medical 3D printing company. It’s using its patent portfolio to reshape the way patients approach knee, back and spine surgeries.

Thinking Robot has risen from obscurity to recently announced plans to build an $84 million manufacturing facility in the United States. It will focus on 3D printed-implants for patients suffering from joint-injuries or diseases related to the effects of aging.

An engineering conference brought together founders Kendall Joudrie and Jourdan Dakov, MSME, nearly a decade ago. It sparked the idea for patient-specific implant kits for orthopedic bone and joint reconstruction surgery.    Combining diverse backgrounds in sales and joint surgery respectively, turned out to be a winning combination for these medical inventors as they successfully forged a competitive startup in the healthcare 3D printing landscape.

The Canadian pair gradually built up an extensive array of orthopedic patents to protect the fledgling technology.  Over time it developed a powerful team to grow the company, including specialized surgeons, researchers and biomechanical engineers.

Patents were crafted to protect its unique approach. This includes  “smart implant technology” specifically customized for a particular patient’s physiology,  rather than using generic implants that produce uneven results and side-effects over time.

The patient-specific kits can be delivered within 72 hours to a patient operating room versus the current production of 4-8 weeks for generic implants. This reduces cost, complexity and stress for patients destined for orthopedic surgical rooms.

Interest in the intellectual property and technology has surged in recent years as evidence mounted that these special Implants are designed to repair bone loss after cancer treatment and correct different types of deformities.  It also solves unique medical complications such as infections.

But its announcement to build an $84 million dollar facility in Buffalo, New York spanning over 75,000 ft, has signaled a new phase in growth and credibility for the original founders. It demonstrates their foresight in patenting the underlying technology and risking time and capital in building their medical startup.

The pair harbor grand ambitions to design a Center for Excellence for Orthopedics in what they refer to as a vertically-integrated facility.  It will encompass all aspects of the orthopedic implant process including design, manufacturing, packaging, sterilization and final delivery to the surgery room.

“Our company is focused on becoming a global leader in the manufacturing of customized medical implants, advanced surgical tools, and kits, as well as other products for highly regulated industry sectors, utilizing additive manufacturing,” said the founders.

The founders regularly refer back to their “robust patent portfolio” as a key launchpad (and product differentiator)  for their platform which uses industrial-grade printing machines to customize and then mass-produce medical devices such as artificial orthopedic implants and systems to reconstruct bones and joints.

The pair has also pursued trademarks for its logo and brand assets which it proudly displays at the bottom of it site, stating that “all logos, trademarks and registered trademarks are property of their respective owners”.   They have carefully cultivated and extended their intellectual property portfolio that is fully expressed in the new 3D printing facility they intend to build at Buffalo.

Construction will begin shortly and expected to create around 270 high-end and entry level jobs over several years.  The facility is also drawing attention for a number of other sophisticated features including:

First-of-its-kind Advanced Medical Manufacturing & Healthcare Facility

▪ Utilizing proprietary and disruptive technologies

▪ Constructed to be a net zero (energy) advanced manufacturing facility—

the first in NYS

▪ Powered by multi-megawatt solar and battery, with hydrogen systems

▪ Planning for zero emissions impact and status

▪ Aviation, automotive, defense certification compatible

The sheer scale of this project reflects the massive growth in joint-related surgeries in the United States and globally.    The rising number of replacement surgeries like hip, knee, shoulder, and other bone joints is placing major stress on our healthcare system both in terms of cost and complexity.   Further, the increased incidences of orthopedic diseases, sports injuries and rapid growth in our aging population are helping to drive around a 7% growth in implant procedures, particularly the knee joint.

While these are depressing statistics from a healthcare perspective, it also suggests numerous opportunities for budding inventors and entrepreneurs in the medical device space, including 3D printing.  Opportunities abound in the orthopedic implants market that encompasses dental implants, spinal implants, reconstructive joint implants, trauma and craniomaxillofacial implants and orthobiologics.

As osteoarthritis and osteoporosis cases soar, new disruptive 3D printing implant technologies can help alleviate patient suffering, speed up recovery and ultimately reduce costs.  Thinking Robots Studio is reflective of this direction and looks set to become a guiding roadmap for other inventors seeking to make their mark in the American healthcare space.

Early patent protection should be a mandatory goal for all inventors in this space, considering the global competition and financial risk associated with this hot industry.    To illustrate this point, consider a recent proclamation by a spinal and knee-surgery implant startup, Implanet, in Japan:

Protecting our intellectual property is a cornerstone our  strategic plan. We focus on obtaining the necessary patents for the development of our technologies in new, high potential markets. Japan is the third largest spine market in the world after the United States and China, valued at $400 million. It is important for our global expansion that our proprietary JAZZ Lock® technology is protected in this market.”

Implanet’s comments came hot on the hot heels of releasing its patented JAZZ Lock® a multi-purpose implant designed to treat degenerative spine disorders. Using a special locking mechanism with no rod fixation, it allows allows surgeons to shorten and simplify the surgical procedure by eliminating two steps used in traditional systems: locking screws and connecting rods.

This was the 30th patent filed by the company showing the remarkable scale of creativity and technology linked to fixing joint pain and injuries.

Both Thinking Robot Studios and Implanet approach intellectual property as a mandatory pivot in increasing market share and protecting their disruptive technology.  You should, too.

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