How medical companies use AM for production today, part 3: Lima Corporate
For our AM Focus Medical this month we continue to zoom in on the many possibilities that additive manufacturing is offering today to medical companies. We are now taking a closer look at Lima Corporate additive manufacturing activities. In the previous episodes, we looked at one of the largest companies to operate in this segment, Stryker, Texas-based Osseus, a very dynamic young medical AM firm. Upcoming episodes will continue to include many different types of players in this segment, ranging from highly innovative startups and SMEs to giant multinational corporations. Stay tuned: at the end of the month, all the best content will be featured in 3dpbm’s Medical AM Focus 2020 eBook.
Lima is one of the originators of additive manufacturing in the orthopedic industry, and one of the earliest customers of Arcam’s EBM powder bed fusion technology. Lima is headquartered in Italy, with two major production facilities, and has been expanding internationally.
Since 2000, Lima has specifically focused on the orthopedics market, and currently markets a variety of metal-based devices for joint replacement in the hip, knee, and shoulder primarily. It also offers Promade services for patient-specific implants made via additive manufacturing. Lima’s use of additive manufacturing began in the acetabular hip cup segment and has since expanded to include knee and shoulder replacements.
As of 2017 Lima owned and operated 15 Arcam EBM systems. Today the number of internal systems is expected to have grown significantly and the company reported doubled its manufacturing capacity through the expansion of an existing production facility in 2018. In 2019 Lima launched a new Research & Innovation Center (R&I Center) and an Advanced Laboratory for Testing and Analysis (ATLAs). The new facilities, based at Lima Corporate’s headquarters in Udine, Italy, are dedicated entirely to 3D printing and advanced testing applications.
Spanning nearly 1,000 square meters, the new facilities serve to “strengthen the collaboration” between Lima Corporate’s various departments with a view to creating new and innovative product solutions. The R&I Center houses a range of additive manufacturing and medical imaging equipment and will be operated by a team of over 50 engineers. At the center, the team uses 3D printing, as well as valuable data gathered in each production job, to develop state-of-the-art orthopedic implant solutions. and has continued to grow since.
This indicates that Lima, despite its modest overall size (below 500 million in annual revenues), which pales in comparison to the largest multi-billion dollar medical device groups active in this segment, is nevertheless one of the largest users of AM technology in the industry.
The estimated machine capacity indicates that Lima is utilizing metal AM to produce a fairly significant portion of its device catalog today beyond just acetabular cups. At least one product in its shoulder segment wears the “TT” designation which stands for Trabecular Titanium, the trade name for Lima’s 3D printed device technology.
In 2019, Lima opened the first additive manufacturing facility for custom implants in a hospital environment at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), in New York City, one of the top orthopedic hospitals in the U.S., to establish the first additive manufacturing facility for custom implants in a hospital environment. This represents a major departure in the typical industry relationship between device companies and surgeons, with the focus being put on patient-specific implants used for complex cases under compassionate use exemptions for implantable devices.
The collaboration between Lima and HSS is not unprecedented, as the NYC-based hospital has ordered patient-specific implants from the Italian company’s headquarters since 2016. These implants, part of Lima’s proprietary Trabecular Titanium offering, have been used in recent years to treat highly complex orthopedic cases.