DMLS technology recently was used to to help Stryker Corp. create multiple experimental prototypes for delivering materials that facilitate cell growth. As part of the project, my firm was required to design and build prototypes for intricate grasping jaws in a very short time frame. At first, we approached a number of Swiss screw machine shops and other precision CNC houses to get the part built. Some said they couldn't do the project for technical reasons. Others said they could do it, but the cost and the turnaround time would have been unacceptable.
This prompted us to contact a DMLS sales rep and present the challenge to him. Almost on the spot, he said, "Yes, we can build this." Within two weeks we had created four completely different, workable designs that were ready for trials by surgeons in cadaver labs. The parts created using DMLS were dimensionally precise. They simplified the design because multiple features were combined into one part and required no secondary finishing other than removing support posts. Because they were made from surgical-grade stainless steel, the same material that would have been used in traditional manufacturing, they had the same strength and durability.