Johnson & Johnson Develops 3D-Printed Patient-Specific Surgical Tools

Head of Johnson & Johnson’s 3D Printing Center of Excellence, Sam Onukuri, holding a patient-specific, 3D-printed implant. (Image courtesy of Johnson & Johnson.)

Last year, had the opportunity to speak with Johnson & Johnson regarding the company’s interest in 3D printing technology, after it had been announced that the multinational corporation had partnered with both Carbon and HP to use some next-generation 3D printing systems. 

Given the size of the company, a lot of the specific details were still under wraps, but, since then, Johnson & Johnson has shed further light on just how it plans to use additive manufacturing (AM) in the medical space. 

Johnson & Johnson recently published a blog post putting the spotlight on Sam Onukuri, mechanical engineering metallurgist and the head of the company’s 3D Printing Center of Excellence. In the post, not only does Johnson & Johnson reveal the existence of the center, but it also details some of the work that the center is performing.

This week, the center will launch a series of customized surgical tools that will be made available to surgeons across the United States. These tools complement the 3D-printed TRUMATCH craniomaxillofacial (CMF) implants and surgical guides developed by Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary DePuy Synthes. With TRUMATCH products, a patient’s CT scan can be converted into personally tailored implants, such as a jawbone, or surgical guides, which aid doctors in the precise implementation of incisions and implantation of medical hardware based on a patient’s anatomy.

The customized surgical tools build upon this foundation by allowing doctors to 3D print patient-specific tools that can be implemented during surgery. Typically, according to Onukuri, a doctor may enter the operating room with multiple instrument sizes, which can introduce added inefficiency into the surgery. With 3D printing, however, it’s possible to create tools that fit the procedure exactly. On top of that, the actual production of surgical tools is more streamlined with AM.


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