The First FDA-Cleared, 3-D Printed Facial Implant

Oxford Performance Materials (OPM) has won a first-of-its-kind FDA clearance for its 3D-printed facial implant.

Chris Wiltz

August 21, 2014

3 Min Read
The First FDA-Cleared, 3-D Printed Facial Implant

Every human face is unique. So why shouldn't facial implants be as well? It's a question South Windsor, CN-based OEM Oxford Performance Materials (OPM) has been tackling for almost a decade. And it's found its answer through additive manufacturing using 3D printing. This week OPM announced FDA clearance of its OsteoFab Patient-Specific Facial Device (OPSFD), a 3D-printed, customizable implant for facial reconstruction. The 510(k) clearance is the first FDA clearance for a 3D-printed polymeric implant for facial indications and follows FDA's 2013 clearance of OPM's patient-specific cranial device polymeric implant.

Facial reconstruction can be a highly complex and demanding procedure, both for doctors and patients. Typically a surgeon will cut a metal material into an approximation of the shape a patient needs. It's a one-size-fits-all approach that isn't optimal for healing and recovery. “There has been a substantial unmet need in personalized medicine for truly individualized—yet economical—solutions for facial reconstruction,” says OPM's CEO Scott DeFelice. "Until now, a technology did not exist that could treat the highly complex anatomy of these demanding cases.” The OPSFD uses a patient scan, such as a MRI, to create an implant catered to their anatomy.

The key to OPM's approach lies in a poly-ether-ketone-ketone (PEKK) polymer called OXPEKK, a proprietary material developed by OPM. “We focus on 3D-printing as a process,” DeFelice says. “It's nice that you can make shapes and things with a 3D printer, but it doesn't matter if they're not made of the right material.” OXPEKK's powder formulation allows OPM to used additive manufacturing to print implants that are not only patient-specific, but also biocompatible and mechanically similar to bone. “It's osteoconductive and offers a biological approximation, what we call biomimicry, so that bone grows onto and into the implant.” DeFelice says. The company says having a patient-specific implant available also decreases operation time, length of hospital stay, and reduces procedure complications.


Where 3D printing always runs into challenges is when you begin to talk costs and economics. Creating customized implants can be a costly endeavor. Furthermore, doctors will often cite the time factor as a big turnoff. Even in creating 3D printed models of patient organs, a patient must undergo a scan (which could be gigabytes in size) that then has to be converted into a 3D printer-friendly format. Only after all of this does the printer begin the arduous task of additively printing the object. It's not ideal for emergency situations or even surgeries where timeliness is a factor.


However, OPM says that the Osteofab technology achieves its results without increasing manufacturing costs. We can make 30-50 custom cranial implants in a single production run,” DeFelice says. “From time of order to shipment is about five days. Normally, with these patient traumas, from the time the hospital is ready to take a scan we are way ahead of them.” The company adds that OsteoFab customers do not pay a premium for the individualized 3D printed implant.


Orthopedics distributor Biomet will be the exclusive global distributor of the OPSFD. OPM says patient cases around the device are currently being developed.


Correction: A previous version of this article identified the OPSFD as being "approved." It was a clearance.


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