Bone Joint J 2019;101-B(7 Supple C):115–120

Feasibility of single-use 3D-printed instruments for total knee arthroplasty

J. Hooper, R. Schwarzkopf, E. Fernandez, A. Buckland, J. Werner, T. Einhorn, P. S. Walker


This aim of this study was to assess the feasibility of designing and introducing generic 3D-printed instrumentation for routine use in total knee arthroplasty.

Materials and Methods

Instruments were designed to take advantage of 3D-printing technology, particularly ensuring that all parts were pre-assembled, to theoretically reduce the time and skill required during surgery. Concerning functionality, ranges of resection angle and distance were restricted within a safe zone, while accommodating either mechanical or anatomical alignment goals. To identify the most suitable biocompatible materials, typical instrument shapes and mating parts, such as dovetails and screws, were designed and produced.


Before and after steam sterilization, dimensional analysis showed that acrylonitrile butadiene styrene could not withstand the temperatures without dimensional changes. Oscillating saw tests with slotted cutting blocks produced debris, fractures, or further dimensional changes in the shape of Nylon-12 and polymethylmethacrylate (MED610), but polyetherimide ULTEM 1010 was least affected.


The study showed that 3D-printed instrumentation was technically feasible and had some advantages. However, other factors, such as whether all procedural steps can be accomplished with a set of 3D-printed instruments, the logistics of delivery, and the economic aspects, require further study.

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