2015 Volume 32 Pages 75-84
Powder-based additive manufacturing (AM) technology has increasingly attracted attention because it realizes fabrication of arbitral three-dimensional structures with a great degree of freedom at high speed, which is almost impossible using conventional manufacturing tools. In early times, AM was known as a rapid prototyping (RP) which merely aimed at a trial prototyping of products mainly from resin materials. Today, thanks to the progress in the heat source, optical system, raw material production, etc., the expected role of AM has dramatically changed into a direct fabrication of final or near-final products made from a variety of materials from resins to ceramics, metals, and intermetallic compounds. Because the powder-based AM is a bottom-up manufacturing method, it offers a big advantage for the small-lot production of a wide range of products; therefore, tailor-made product portfolio is a potent target of AM. In this review paper, the advantage and possibility of AM in the development of functional metallic biomaterials for orthopedic usage is described. Medical treatments need to be flexibly done in accordance with individual pathological conditions and constitutions, therefore, the function of a medical device should be tunable, which is quite a strength of AM.