In order to meet the clinical requirements of spine surgery, this paper proposes the fabrication of the customized template for spine surgery through computer-aided design. A 3D metal printing-selective laser melting (SLM) technique was employed to directly fabricate the 316L stainless steel template, and the metal template with tiny locating holes was used as an auxiliary tool to insert spinal screws inside the patient’s body. To guarantee accurate fabrication of the template for cervical vertebra operation, the contact face was placed upwards to improve the joint quality between the template and the cervical vertebra. The joint surface of the printed template had a roughness of Ra = 13 ± 2 μm. After abrasive blasting, the surface roughness was Ra = 7 ± 0.5 μm. The surgical metal template was bound with the 3D-printed Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) plastic model. The micro-hardness values determined at the cross-sections of SLM-processed samples varied from HV0.3 250 to HV0.3 280, and the measured tensile strength was in the range of 450 MPa to 560 MPa, which showed that the template had requisite strength. Finally, the metal template was clinically used in the patient’s surgical operation, and the screws were inserted precisely as the result of using the auxiliary template. The geometrical parameters of the template hole (e.g., diameter and wall thickness) were optimized, and measures were taken to optimize the key geometrical units (e.g., hole units) in metal 3D printing. Compared to the traditional technology of screw insertion, the use of the surgical metal template enabled the screws to be inserted more easily and accurately during spinal surgery. However, the design of the high-quality template should fully take into account the clinical demands of surgeons, as well as the advice of the designing engineers and operating technicians.
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