NEXXT SPINE LLC | Haas Customer Success Story
“We’ve grown 30% every year since 2009,” says Nexxt President Andy Elsbury. He adds that the company produces about 800 PEEK spinal implants per year, but recent growth has been for titanium 3D-printed Matrixx implants. “That is where we are growing faster than 30%.”
For more than a decade, Nexxt has machined its Honour and Struxxure implant lines from PEEK rods and titanium blanks using Haas machining centers. The company recently added a Haas drill-tap center to machine features into its Matrixx products, and Elsbury says fast growth in that product line will likely lead to new machine purchases soon.
PEEK, titanium machining
The high percentage of Nexxt’s orders are still from the Struxxure line of anterior cervical plate system implants that must be completely machined from blanks. Nexxt Programmer Beau Riser says the company uses various Haas machining centers to machine fixed plates, variable plates, and spacers for its implants.
“These cervical plates are implanted from the front,” Riser says, pointing to his neck. “Surgeons actually move your esophagus over and then implant them, and then your esophagus goes back over the top of it. You’ve got a plate sitting on your vertebrae and your esophagus is basically sitting up against that. If those screws back out at all, any time you swallow it’s going to feel like you’ve got something in the back of your throat.”
The implants use fixed or variable plates and fixed or variable screws. Fixed plates allow the screws to only go in one direction at one spot, while variable plates allow some movement around the screw head. Different surgeries require different approaches, but most implants have a mix of fixed and variable spots, all of which need to be machined to surgical-grade tolerances.
“This one plate can be used with a fixed screw, variable screw, or both. That’s why ours is, in my opinion, the best,” Riser adds. “We have sold thousands upon thousands of these things, and we’re getting very good feedback from the doctors. It’s working well for the patients.”
Nexxt machinists can make two pieces simultaneously on their Haas CNC equipment, programmed with Mastercam software. Careful material handling policies mean PEEK parts use metal fixtures, and titanium parts use plastic ones. All pieces are machined dry (PEEK can absorb some lubricating fluids), and employees wear gloves, so the parts don’t contact human skin until they enter the patient.
“The shortest cycle time is about half an hour,” Riser explains, adding that he uses about 15 tools for each part. “I do everything in one operation. I flip it over and do the bottom. The longest one is more than two hours.”
About a year ago, Nexxt added a Haas DM-2 drill-mill vertical machining center (VMC) to increase capacity for the machined titanium implants. “I love that thing,” Riser says, praising its speed and rigidity. “It has the new Haas Next-Gen CNC control, I’m getting used to it, and I like it. We made a plate on the Haas VM-3 (mold-making VMC milling machine), and then I took the exact program, added nothing, took nothing away, put it on the Haas DM-2, and it went from 7 minutes to 5 minutes.”