Scholarship brings student's additive manufacturing expertise to Germany

June 11, 2019

OBERKOCHEN, Germany — Maryam Tilton, a doctoral student studying mechanical engineering at Penn State, has been awarded a Research Internship in Science and Engineering (RISE) Scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), a prestigious opportunity to conduct research in the country funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.

Completing her scholarship in Germany in the fall of 2019, she will be working at Zeiss, a German manufacturer of optical systems, industrial measurement, and medical devices. While working alongside other experts, Tilton will continue her research into biomechanical characterization of orthopaedic implants created with additive manufacturing (AM), a novel approach to create custom medical devices with personalized properties for patients.

Describing her work at Penn State, she said, “Currently, to personalize an orthopaedic implant for a patient, it would cost a lot of time and money, in addition to missing certain important details. But by using additive manufacturing, the design freedom brings complexity, so you are able to look into not only geometric personalization, but also mechanical and material properties.”

With the added power of AM, orthopaedic implants can become more customized to a patient’s needs and lifestyle. For example, a tennis player may require a much more flexible shoulder implant than someone who isn't an athlete. 

“That’s the hope and goal of our AM work — to not only improve the biomechanical performance of current implants, but to potentially offer new solutions for patients with bone cancer,” Tilton explained. “Current treatment for many of these patients with bone cancer is amputation without reconstruction. With AM we can develop personalized implants for anatomic reconstruction after resection of the tumor.”

Expanding on the foundation of this work, she will contribute to a collaborative industry project being spearheaded at Zeiss, where she will be able to apply the skills she’s acquired in AM to a relevant industry project.

“The research I do at Penn State is done from a global view and is very holistic into additive manufacturing,” Tilton explained. “At Zeiss, I’ll be able to bring those important experiences to the table.”

Taking advantage of the unique international opportunity, she said, “I’m hoping to bring my experience [to Germany], and then in the same way, bring new knowledge back to Penn State.”


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Erin Cassidy Hendrick,

“That’s the hope and goal of our AM work — to not only improve the biomechanical performance of current implants, but to potentially offer new solutions for patients with bone cancer.”

— Maryam Tilton, doctoral student at Penn State



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