Desktop Metal Launches 316L Stainless Steel for Medical and Other Uses

316L stainless steel

Desktop Metal, a Burlington, MA-based technology company that designs and markets metal 3D printing systems, launched its 316L stainless steel for the Studio System™, the world’s first metal 3D printing system for prototyping and low volume production.

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316L is a fully austenitic steel known for its corrosion resistance and excellent mechanical properties at extreme temperatures. The metal is well-suited for applications in the most demanding industrial environments, including salt water in marine applications, caustic cleaners found in food processing environments, and chemicals in pharmaceutical manufacturing, reports Business Wire.

“The addition of 316L enables engineers to print metal parts for a wide range of applications, including engine parts, laboratory equipment, pulp and paper manufacturing, medical devices, chemical and petrochemical processing, kitchen appliances, jewelry and even cryogenic tools and equipment,” said Ric Fulop, CEO and co-founder of Desktop Metal. “Teams are now able to iterate quickly on 316L prototypes, print complex geometries that are not possible with most manufacturing methods, and produce end use parts cost-effectively.”

Finger splint
Image: Desktop Metal

The new metal can benefit the healthcare industry greatly. Ring splints, a common medical device, are designed to immobilize or limit the range of motion of injured limbs. These are typically made of injected-molded plastic in standard sizes and parts often break after a relatively short lifetime. Due to traditional manufacturing methods, finger splints cannot be customized to improve fit. Now, by 3D printing in 316L, ring splints can be custom-printed, on-demand to the desired size, with the added benefit of an aesthetic finish and increased durability.

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“Being able to 3D print medical grade steel parts like this finger splint, which is customized to the patient anatomy, offers many advantages as compared to previous fabrication methods that take longer and may have lower efficacy,” said Jim S. Wu, MD, Chief of Musculoskeletal Radiology and Intervention at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School.