scaffoldTwo South West companies brought together under the umbrella of the GWR studentship scheme have gained the market-share of sales of fracture fixation products through the development of software modelling for micro structures and bioscaffold design in the human body. The work has also led to a surprising collaboration with NASA.

With worldwide market sales of fracture fixation products (holding splintered bones together) valued at well over $2.7 billion, there are business opportunities for small, innovative companies in this niche sector. With this in mind, two South West companies, Simpleware and CH Medical, came together under the umbrella of the GWR studentship scheme to gain market-share through the development of software modelling for the optimisation of micro structures and bioscaffold design in the human body.

The two SMEs, GWR PhD student Bruno Notarberardino, Dr Philippe Young, University of Exeter, Dr Irene turner, University of Bath as well as Dr Bo Su, University of Bristol formed a team to develop software tools specifically tailored to the orthopaedic industry, and also to consolidate viable solutions for the rapid manufacturing of implants using hydroxyapatite and other bio-reabsorbable implants. The project successfully explored the use of novel materials (composites, ceramics, bioresorbables) for developing a new genre of fracture fixation devices in place of metal. Particular focus was directed to the application of non-load bearing plates and for fractures in the upper torso. the work involved exploring different fabrication techniques and generating patient specific models combining imaging and rapid prototyping solutions.

Simpleware Ltd have doubled in size since the commencement of the PhD, having opened up new markets in oil, gas and composites, which account for around 20% of Simpleware’s business, largely assisted by Bruno’s contribution of extending the use of image- based modelling to micro-structural characterisation. The outputs of this PhD have been well received internationally. With 3 academic papers and 19 conference presentations spanning 3 continents, Bruno and Philippe’s interest in applying the principles of rapid prototyping of complex micro-architectures, frequently used in the aerospace industry, has also led to a surprising collaboration with ARUP and N.A.S.A., with the 3 parties jointly publishing a paper on how metal matrix composite foams can be used for impact protection on space missions. There is now an ongoing research project in materials between NASA Glenn Research Centre and the University of Manchester as a result of this work.

Bruno has also contributed towards a successful grant application to the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) for £1 million looking at optimising rapid prototype manufacturing techniques for fabricating microstructures as well as a further €1 million from European Union FP7 Programme for the BIO-CT- EXPLOIT project. The Exeter team also recently submitted a research proposal for 17 million Euros to investigate bio-scaffolds as part of a European consortium alongside Simpleware.

Source: Great Western Research

Great Western Research (GWR) is a consortium of the Universities and HEIs in the South West of England, created in 2006 to promote innovative research collaborations between University groups, and between these groups and businesses.

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