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3D Printing: Bringing Emerging Technology to Orthopedics

Innovation Center April 20th, 2017

Written By: Robert Urban, Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation

What began several years ago as a collaboration between Johnson & Johnson Innovation and a pioneering medical device start-up company called Tissue Regeneration Systems (TRS), has evolved into an acquisition that will enable the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies to advance a truly novel 3D printing technology for bone trauma and deformities.


Though it still may sound futuristic to some, 3D printing is becoming a new reality for patients with a range of health challenges. Rather than rely on ink, these printers use materials ranging from metal to human cells to create customized, fully-functional objects.

One of the most promising areas of healthcare for TRS’s technology is in orthopedic and craniomaxillofacial implants. Using TRS’ 3D printing technology, DePuy Synthes, part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, hopes to create individualized bone implants based on the patient’s unique anatomy. TRS has also developed a specialized mineral coating that helps promote bone healing.

DePuy Synthes acquired the 3D printing and coating technology on April 20, bringing this breakthrough innovation in-house and soon thereafter to patients. The bone-healing technologies joins a pipeline of other 3D printed products at J&J, including bioprinted knee tissue that could potentially make knee surgery and recovery easier. The potential to create customized medical solutions can mean increased satisfaction for patients. We are excited at the potential this technology holds to help improve patient outcomes as well.

Johnson & Johnson Innovation, along with DePuy Synthes, launched a formal collaboration with TRS in 2014 to accelerate the promising technology. It’s a success story for DePuy Synthes, but also for Johnson & Johnson Innovation, which partnered with TRS at early stages and helped put in place the plan that has chartered the way towards patients.

It’s a testament to our belief that great ideas really do come from anywhere. This time, it happened to be from a small medical device startup in Plymouth, Michigan!

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