In SLM, component parts are built layer by layer from a fine powder that is melted by laser radiation according to a CAD model. Since it manufactures parts without tools and does so in layers, SLM lends itself well to cost-effective individual fabrication of complex geometries. Tailor-made implants can be designed on the computer directly from medical image data (CT, MRT) for a patient and subsequently manufactured with SLM cost-effectively. If needed, these patient-specific implants can be provided with additional functions that cannot be achieved with conventional manufacturing methods, or only at a very high cost. On the one hand, when an implant’s pore structures are carefully defined, for example, technicians can improve how well the implant is integrated into the tissue (osseointegration) and how well new tissue (vascularization) is supplied to the implant. On the other, SLM enables technicians to set optimal mechanical properties that are desirable for the particular patient and site of implantation.
In particular, with resorbable implants, defined pore structures are a decisive advantage compared to non-porous implants. The total volume that needs to dissolve can be reduced significantly and an effective transport of the dissolved products can be guaranteed by a complete vascularization of the implant. At the same time, the bone can form inside the implant so that the implant is strengthened by new autologous bone while it decomposes.