It’s a jigsaw puzzle in your hip. That’s how Deepak Shivaratre describes 3D printed hip implants. The chief of orthopaedic oncology at Bengaluru-based HOSMAT Joint Replacement Centre, Shivaratre knows a thing or two about 3D printed implants, having done 10 hip replacement surgeries—all of them involving 3D printed hip implants.

Shivaratre’s tryst with 3D printed implants began back in 2008, during an almost 15-year-long stint with the Royal Liverpool University Hospital (RLUH) in the United Kingdom. Here, he had a ringside seat as 3D printed medical implants rose to prominence. 

MedGadget says the market for 3D printed medical implants worldwide was worth almost $1,125 million in 2018, and growing at close to 19% year-on-year.

Indeed, it is the potential of 3D printed implants that drew Shivaratre back to India—he wanted to be at the forefront of India’s nascent 3D printed medical devices space. Having designed implants for patients with tumours, he thought it was the future of orthopaedics and came back to India to see if the technology could be used similarly here.

“One of the reasons for me to relocate to India was to do 3D printing in India, I did not want to startup in Britain,” he explains. In addition to his role as a doctor, Shivaratre also serves as medical advisor to Singapore-based Supercraft3D Wellness.

“We take the CT scan and plan the implant such that it sits in the hip defect. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle”

Dr Deepak Shivaratre, Orthopaedic Oncologist, HOSMAT Joint Replacement Centre


With an office in Bengaluru, Supercraft3D is one of the companies leading the charge when it comes to 3D printed implants. Supercraft3D is hoping to make 3D printing as popular in the surgical space as it is in other medical areas like prosthetics, hearing aids, and dentistry. In dentistry, 3D printed products account for around 90% of the market, according to Raja Sekhara Upputuri, a founder of think3D, another startup that also makes 3D printed implants.

Sector agnostic technology

The industry is sector agnostic and can be used in any field—40% of think3D’s operations are focused on medical devices prototyping, while prosthetics, low volume manufacturing of components for defence and automotive sectors constitute 10% each, and prototyping for other sectors constitutes the rest of its operations


Last year alone, 300,000 3D printed hip implants have been printed in the US and Europe combined. China alone printed 60,000 implants,” says Supercraft’s CEO Maltesh Somasekharappa, illustrating the sector’s potential.

The Indian surgical space, however, has been a hard nut to crack.

AUTHOR

Suraksha P

Suraksha writes on Healthcare and Pharma. She has been a journalist for five years, reporting for The New Indian Express in Bengaluru and Chennai, and The Times of India, Delhi. In her previous stints she has written on health, civic issues and education. She investigated cover up of corruption in the state health department’s think tank, narrated harrowing tales of women who underwent unwarranted hysterectomies, and wrote about how loss of biometrics came in the way of Leprosy patients getting an Aadhaar card and thereby pension. She can be reached at suraksha at the-ken dot com.

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