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Lenton furnaces spur growth of orthobiologics companies

Lenton : 24 January, 2012  (Company News)
Advanced furnace technology from Lenton claims to be playing a vital role in the successful development and manufacture of revolutionary orthobiological synthetic bone graft materials created by a number of European developers.
Lenton furnaces spur growth of orthobiologics companies
Many of the developers have grown from small beginnings into world leading manufacturers by utilising innovative research and building on IP initially developed in the UK's University Hospitals.

From the outset Lenton furnaces have been used to develop and manufacture a number of these innovative orthobiologic graft products.  Central to this revolution in bioceramics is the ability to produce a particle stabilised ceramic slip foam with a carefully engineered pore structure and chemistry. The material's structure is critically dependent on the particle size distribution coupled with the accurate heating and sintering of the foam within the Lenton furnaces used for production.

The porosity and nanoscale surface chemistry of the final orthobiological synthetic bone graft materials has to be tailored to the most exact requirements.

Silicates substituted for a proportion of the phosphate groups within the hydroxyapatite foam produce a material with high levels of macro-porous connectivity, which not only provides a scaffold that osteoblasts can colonise but also induces a level of biostimulation to accelerate natural bone growth.

Multiple energy efficient Lenton furnaces are being used for batch manufacture of the graft material and provide economical heating via silicon carbide heating elements controlled by multi-segment programmable controllers which log data via RS232 communication links from the sintering process to the control computer.

As production demands have grown, there has been demand for furnace specialist Lenton to design and build progressively larger capacity furnaces increasing from 50 to 100 litre models, to latterly 200 litre capacity systems.  The furnaces have been custom made so that they can be inserted through the clean room wall with only the controls and doors being contained within the cleanroom environment.

Able to reach a maximum temperature of 1350 degrees C the valuable loads and the furnaces themselves are protected by independent over temperature protection thermostats. Within the chambers silicon carbide support beams facilitate trolley loading of the chambers. The furnace doors open upwards to provide easy access to the chambers and keep the hot face of the doors away from the operator. Once closed, clamps hold the doors securely shut to prevent ingress of the positively pressurised cleanroom air, whilst a separate air supply is fed into the furnace chambers and drawn away though Venturi exhaust systems under the control of the programmers but with a manual override option.

The receipt of numerous prestigious awards for business and research success has helped increase the sales of orthobiologic graft products on a global scale.

Production of the graft materials has been expanding rapidly to meet the growing demand which has been further spurred on by multi-billion dollar US healthcare giants acquiring the technology rights in their keenness to offer this new materials technology to more medical applications.

The new synthetic bone graft materials manufactured in these furnaces have hit the market at a time when breakthroughs in orthopaedic surgical techniques have greatly increased the demand for improved graft materials. The new orthobiologic grafts carry none of the concerns about cross infection, nor complications around consent which accompany human donor materials.  The new materials are designed for resorption by the body thereby minimising the likelihood of a foreign body response being triggered which can sometimes be the case with particulate debris from other synthetic graft materials.

Changing demographics are resulting in more active older people which in turn is creating a greater demand for effective orthopaedic repair work and consequently for synthetic orthobiologic bone graft materials.  A wide range of surgical procedures from fracture repair to spinal fusion and plastic surgery operations are increasingly utilising orthobiologic materials.  The synthetic bone material is also ideal for filling voids that will not need to be put under mechanical stress.

The quality and effectiveness of the Lenton furnaces not only assists in meeting this growing demand with larger numbers and larger capacity furnaces being used for production but the assurance of being able to call on Lenton's factory trained service team to provide support and scheduled maintenance is important when optimising manufacturing processes.
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