Group of students and professors collaborating around a table

Pharmacists Collaborate to Build Bones

July 18, 2019

Professionals from across various disciplines are collaborating to make a difference in the field of pharmacy and change healthcare for the future. It’s not unusual to see collaboration between pharmacists and other healthcare professionals, but the Cedarville University School of Pharmacy is taking collaboration to a whole different level.

A Different Kind of Collaboration

Cedarville’s School of Pharmacy and School of Engineering and Computer Science are collaborating with Tangible Solutions, Inc. to develop 3D-printing titanium technology for the orthotics industry. Tangible Solutions is a contract manufacturer of 3D-printed titanium implants for orthopedic device companies. Founded in 2013, the company serves orthopedic implant OEMs who need a medical device supplier.

3D printed titanium is a choice metal for medical implants due to its biocompatibility and pro-cell growth characteristics. The strength, stiffness, corrosion-resistance, and high strength makes 3D-printed titanium well suited for bone and joint implant applications such as scaffolds, which are frames over which bone tissue cells can grow.

The partnership between Tangible Solutions and Cedarville will focus on understanding how 3D-printed architecture, structure and surface design characteristics affect the functionality of 3D-printed titanium for successful implant design and manufacturing.

A Successful Design

The partnership between Tangible Solutions and Cedarville will focus on understanding how 3D-printed architecture, structure and surface design characteristics affect the functionality of 3D-printed titanium for successful implant design and manufacturing.

“Our customers spends thousands of hours engineering the next generation of orthopedic implants,” said Adam Clark, CEO of Tangible Solutions. “Tangible Solutions’ sole focus is 3D-printing titanium orthopedic implants for OEMs. We aim to use this knowledge to further elevate the high standards of 3D-printed orthopedics. And Cedarville University is an impressive institution and they have a very passionate staff and student body.”

A team of Cedarville students will study a matrix of 3D-printed titanium variables in order to evaluate cell viability outcomes for various 3D-printed architectural and surface designs.

The students will work with Matthew Shomper, Tangible Solutions’ Director of Engineering; Dr. Tim Norman, Distinguished Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical engineering; Dr. Rocco Rotello, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Science; and Dr. Tim Tuinstra, Professor of Electrical Engineering.

A Better Type of Cell

Rotello will focus on improving the bone cell type grown in Cedarville’s lab. He is growing a new type of cell that better represents what happens in the body. Tuinstra is helping a student develop computer software that can count cell growth.

Students will learn metal additive printing technologies, numerical analysis, surface property characterization, mechanical testing, cell culture techniques and how to engineer the architectural design of implants.

“We have an ongoing effort at Cedarville to develop 3D printed scaffolds for implant tissue innovations,” said Norman. “We are coupling our expertise in design and characterization and cell culturing of the scaffolds with the manufacturing expertise of Tangible Solutions in the area of 3D printing titanium implants. This is a very multidisciplinary endeavor.”

This project allows Cedarville’s Pharm.D. students to experience firsthand how collaboration within the pharmacy field can make a difference in healthcare today and in the future.

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