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A company which is producing veterinary implants using the latest 3D printing techniques has received a six-figure investment from The North West Fund for Venture Capital, managed by Enterprise Ventures.

Fusion Implants, a spin-out from the University of Liverpool, brings together Dr Chris Sutcliffe and Dr Dan Jones from the School of Engineering and their colleagues Professor John Innes, Mr Rob Pettitt and Mr Ben Walton from the School of Veterinary Science.

Their first device, the Fusion TTA implant, is already being sold to veterinary practices in the North West and will be launched nationally within the coming months.

The Fusion Implants team with dog Archie

The Fusion Implants team with Archie, one of the dogs undergoing assessment. From left to right: Dr Chris Sutcliffe, Dr Dan Jones, Professor John Innes and Paul Whittle.

Rupture of the canine cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) remains the most common orthopaedic problem seen in veterinary practices around the world. CCL repair surgery involves a cut in the tibia and the insertion of the Fusion TTA implant to change the biomechanics of the knee joint.

The Fusion Implants team have devised a way to manufacture high-performance veterinary implants from titanium using 3D printing, or additive manufacturing as it is also known. Fusion Implant’s technology – which is covered by extensive patent protection throughout Europe, USA, Canada and Australia – allows the mass manufacture of porous titanium implants. These implants have been optimised for osseointegration to form a natural bond with bone and to improve performance.

Dr Jones, General Manager, said: “The use of 3D printing gives greater design freedom than conventional manufacturing techniques and also allows us to combine solid and porous sections for optimum strength and biological performance. Our future plans include working closely with our veterinary surgeon customers to provide the next generation of animal implants. In particular we will be working on a range of hip implants to suit specific breeds.”

Fusion Implants will use the funding to roll out its current product, employ a design engineer and finance new product development.

Doug Stellman of Enterprise Ventures, which manages The North West Fund for Venture Capital, said: “3D printing is a disruptive technology which could improve outcomes and radically change supply chains in the medical and veterinary sectors. Providing companies with finance to invest in new products and equipment is fundamental in making this happen.”

The North West Fund for Venture Capital is part of The £155m North West Fund, which is financed jointly by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Investment Bank.