Revolutionizing 3D-Printed Facial Titanium Implants Polishing

Category: Blog,Expert's Corner
Sep 08, 2023

In the rapidly evolving field of 3D printing (or Additive Manufacturing, AM) and medical technology, GPAINNOVA, a business group specializing in metal surface finishing solutions with their two brands, DLyte and Murua, is developing solutions that promise to transform the way facial titanium implants are polished. Specifically, these disruptive developments are based on the patented DryLyte Technology, a cost-efficient, precise, and advanced method that is set to revolutionize the orthopedic implant industry. An example of this can be found in the success story that we present today, in which GPAINNOVA helped a laboratory to improve, optimize, and make more cost-efficient the processes of polishing for 3D-printed facial implants.

Meet Hybrid Technologies: A Benchmark in the Polishing of Facial Implants in 3D Printed 


A story that illustrates the possibilities of the DryLyte Technology for the polishing of titanium facial implants is the story of Hybrid Technologies (formerly named MDS), an Armenian hybrid laboratory with nearly three decades of experience in the dental sphere. Established in the aftermath of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, their mission has been to cater to the needs of those injured during the war. Initially producing titanium articular heads, implants, and prostheses, they have been vital in providing essential solutions to civilians and soldiers with maxillofacial, craniocerebral, and mobile apparatus problems. In a strategic collaboration with another company, Sisma Laser, Hybrid Technologies adopted the AM or 3D printing implant production technology, ensuring the best product quality while keeping up with market changes and requirements.

The Challenge: Perfecting Surface Finishing for Facial Implants Produced by Additive Manufacturing (AM)


Despite its leading position in the market, Hybrid Technologies faced a significant challenge in providing mirror-smooth surfaces to implants without causing damage. Traditional methods like manual or mechanical polishing fell short due to inconsistencies, time-consuming processes, limited precision, risk of surface damage, and high costs. Manual polishing alone could take up to 2 hours per piece, making it an inefficient and expensive choice.

Furthermore, the unique properties of medical titanium, known for its exceptional strength and durability, posed additional difficulties. Its hardness exceeded that of common materials, demanding more time for a mirror finish. Moreover, titanium’s susceptibility to scratches required a delicate approach to avoid defects and ensure a longer product lifespan.

Additionally, polishing facial implants made of titanium through 3D printing or AM presents several unique challenges compared to conventional manufacturing methods. These features arise due to the intricate nature of 3D-printed titanium implants. Some of the major challenges include the need to treat complex geometries and rougher surfaces compared to traditional manufacturing methods; achieving uniform polishing results on all implant surfaces, which is crucial for maintaining consistent quality and ensuring optimal performance, the goal of shorten time-consuming traditional process and a low cost-efficiency. In fact, conventional polishing techniques can be expensive due to the need for specialized equipment, skilled labor, and time-intensive processes. In the medical industry, cost efficiency is critical to provide affordable healthcare solutions.

Finally, another fundamental challenge has to do with the metal used for the implants: high-quality medical titanium, which meets the requirements of international ISO-13485 and ISO-5832-3 standards. Titanium is a relatively hard metal, harder than most common materials. As a result, achieving a mirror finish on titanium may be more time-consuming compared to other metals. On the other hand, titanium is susceptible to scratches. Although this metal is known for its excellent strength and durability, it is prone to scratching. For this reason, applying excessive pressure can create scratches on the surface. They can be difficult to remove and may require additional polishing steps.

The Laboratory’s Goal for Their Polishing Facial Implants

Addressing the previously listed challenges requires the adoption of innovative surface finishing technologies. By leveraging advanced methods like the above-mentioned DryLyte Technology, the implant industry can overcome these obstacles and enhance the quality, efficiency, and precision of polishing facial titanium implants produced through 3D printing or AM.

All things considered, Hybrid Technologies set its sights on achieving a cost-efficient and precise solution to streamline production, shorten lead times, and reduce expenses related to manual surface finishing. The ultimate objective was to treat facial implants with varying surface qualities – a smooth finish for maxillofacial implants and a mirror finish for cranioplasty parts. A roughness reduction of up to 0.05 µm (1.97 µin) was the target for facial implants.


A Game-Changer for Polishing 3D-Printed Implants: DLyte Technology


After contacting GPAINNOVA, their Engineering department launched a series of tests to find the most suitable polishing process for facial implants produced by AM. To carry them out, their potential customer prepared a batch of cranioplasty implant samples made of titanium with different grinding grades, aiming for a targeted Ra below 0.05 µm (1.97 µin) to meet medical device industry standards.

GPAINNOVA’s Process department defined the electrolyte to be used, taking into account the material properties, initial and targeted roughness, and piece geometry. The Engineering department then developed a fixture to hold the implants during the process, maximizing the equipment’s capacity per cycle and preventing damage. Regarding the equipment, technicians recommended a DLyte 10 machine, capable of grinding and polishing titanium, stainless steel, and cobalt-chrome, proved ideal for a low to medium output, treating one large cranioplasty implant per cycle.

The polishing process suggested by GPAINNOVA was based on DryLyte, a patented technology for grinding and polishing metals through ion transport using free solid bodies. The DryLyte Technology works by combining the electrical flow created by the high-precision rectifier with the movement of the pieces through the electropolishing media. This results in an ion exchange, removing material only from the peaks of roughness. The process does not round edges and can access internal corners that are not easily reached mechanically.

This technology combines mechanical surface finishing with liquid electropolishing, reducing surface roughness without affecting the original geometry. The process relies on ion transport instead of abrasion, providing exceptional precision.


The DLyte equipment used specific electrical parameters and fixture-held implants inside a media-filled tank. Electrolyte particles impacting the metal surface facilitated ion transport, removing surface irregularities.

The Results: Faster, Safer, and More Cost-Efficient Polishing Processes for Facial Implants.

Considering the processing time of 50 minutes and an estimated total time of 4 minutes for loading and unloading the holders, the total process time amounts to 54 minutes. In a single shift, the daily output is 8 craniocerebral implants, resulting in an annual output of 2,000 units over 250 working days.

However, it is essential to note that achievable roughness values, material removal, and process time may vary depending on the geometry and the initial state of the surface before undergoing treatment with the DryLyte Technology, as per GPAINNOVA’s experience.

In this case, the OPEX cost (operational expenditures) per part is €19, covering expenses for media, maintenance, electricity, and air consumption. On the other hand, the CAPEX cost (capital expenditure) is €5.5 per piece, spanning over 5 years with an annual production of 2,000 pieces. This CAPEX cost encompasses both equipment and customized holder investment.


Summary Benefits of the DLyte Technology:

DLyte Technology offered Hybrid Technologies a host of technical benefits for the polishing of their facial implants produced by 3D-printing. 

  • Geometry and Tolerance Preservation -DLyte preserved tolerances more efficiently, ensuring flatness and repeatability of treated parts, making it ideal for delicate pieces with intricate areas.
  • Reduced Material Removal on Titanium Facial Implants-DLyte minimizes material removal compared to mechanical polishing, preserving parts’ integrity and dimensional precision.
  • Stable Results Over Time-With DLyte’s macroporous particles, consistent results were achieved across different batches, eliminating the need for maintenance and ensuring zero scrap rates.
  • Longer Lifespan for Treated Implants Produced by 3D-The isotropic finish provided by DLyte enhanced mechanical properties in all directions, improving uniformity and corrosion resistance, making the implants last longer.
  • Proven Biocompatibility and Non-Cytotoxicity -DLyte’s use of polymeric particles and acids ensured biocompatibility of processed products, meeting industry standards for non-cytotoxicity.

Among the new DLyte surface finishing process main operations, economic and environmental benefits, it is worth to highlight the following ones:

  • Reduced Processing Time -DLyte drastically reduced lead times, completing surface finishing in less than half the time of manual polishing.
  • Space-Efficient Design-DLyte’s high output capabilities were achieved in a compact machine, eliminating the need for multiple manual postprocessing stations.
  • Cost Reduction of the Polishing Processes-The DLyte process reduced production costs by over 60%, encompassing improved quality, logistics, and overall efficiency.
  • Easy Waste Management-Dry electrolyte waste was easily handled by standard services, with no risk of discharge in waterways or drains.
  • Enhanced Worker Safety- DLyte’s process ensured no exposure to harmful dust, noise, or chemical compounds, safeguarding workers’ health.

About the Author:

Jaume Miras
Chief Marketing Officer and Partner of GPAINNOVA
Degree in Economics from the University of Barcelona (UB). Leads the group’s marketing strategy. Previously, he played a prominent role since 2008 in business control, pricing and new business models at SEAT, in coordination with the Volkswagen Group. He has extensive experience in large-scale projects in various business areas, including banking.


GPAINNOVA is a technology group established in 2013 in Barcelona, with subsidiaries in Sunrise (Florida, USA), Hong Kong, and Shenzhen (China). It is specializing in surface metal finishing, with DLyte and MURUA. GPAINNOVA has a team of more than 180 professionals on staff and more than 40 engineers, more than 60 distributors, and more than 900 worldwide clients and more than 950 machines installed. It allowed the company to achieve a record annual turnover of €26 million, with double-digit growth compared to the previous year. GPAINNOVA has been selected by Financial Times among the 1,000 Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies between 2020 and 2023.

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