3D Printing Webinar and Virtual Event Roundup, September 1, 2020

As we leave August and enter September, we’ve got a few webinars and virtual events to tell you about in this week’s roundup. There’s a webinar from Rize today, September 1st, one from PostProcess Technologies on the 3rd, and another by Stratasys on the 3rd as well. Check out all of the details below!

RIZE Uses SOLIDWORKS to Contribute to COVID Response

Like so many other companies during this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, RIZE has had to adapt to a new normal. The company did so by developing a brand new digital operating rhythm and moving industrial 3D printing to the home offices of its engineers, enabling them to design and create face shields for essential workers, first responders, and healthcare workers. RIZE will be hosting a webinar this Tuesday, September 1st, at 2 pm EST, titled “Accelerating Medical Devices Innovation and Improving Patient Outcomes,” where the company’s President and CEO Andy Kalambi will team up with Suchit Jain from SOLIDWORKS Dassault Systèmes and fellow RIZE employee Alex Orphanos to discuss how the company utilized SOLIDWORKS solutions to ramp up medical device innovation.

During the webinar, attendees will learn how to enable better cost and performance through engineering new materials, create smarter workflows by integrating 3D printing into the workflow, conform to FDA requirements by using the full color, text, and images for Intelligent Parts offered by RIZE, and more. Register for the webinar here. You will then receive a confirmation email with information about joining the webinar.

PostProcess Technologies to Present Trend Survey Findings

On Thursday, September 3rd, at 11:30 am EST, PostProcess Technologies will be releasing the results of its 2nd Annual Additive Post-Printing Trends Report in an interactive, real-time webinar, “What’s On the Horizon for Post-Printing: Insights from Market Trends Survey 2020.” The company tabulated and summarized the data from the survey, which has grown since its 2019 survey, with important insights and highlights, and will soon publish the results in a comprehensive report. But for now, the short webinar will reveal the proprietary data gathered during the 2020 survey on current 3D printing and post-processing trends, and will end with a Q&A session with the company’s post-process experts.

“Attend this presentation as we unveil proprietary insights tabulated from our survey data on current trends and methods for post-printing, and just what is in the cards for this developing sector.”

You can register for the 30-minute-long webinar here.

Stratasys on 3D Printing Aircraft Production Parts

Also on September 3rd, Stratasys will be holding a webinar, “Challenges Of Manufacturing Aircraft Production Parts,” about how its Aircraft Interior Solution can be used to provide aerospace companies with a “faster, more streamlined process.” Niccolò Giannelli, Aerospace Application and Account Manager for Stratasys, will be speaking during this webinar about, among other topics, how it’s easier to certify 3D printed aircraft parts using this solution.

The webinar will take place from noon to 12:30 pm on Thursday, September 3rd. You can register for this webinar here.

Will you attend any of these events and webinars, or have news to share about future ones? Let us know! 

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More Efficient Drug Screening with 3D Bioprinting

Taking a drug to market is a competitive, costly and challenging process involving preclinical laboratory and animal testing before the even more time-consuming and expensive four phases of human clinical trials, which can take as many as 7 to 15 years at price tags as high as $5.5 billion. Even if 10 viable drug compounds are identified for human trials, only 1 out of 9 will actually make it to market. Given this high attrition rate, can bioprinting save valuable time and resources by better identifying viable compounds in order to move only the most promising drugs to clinical trials?

The limitations of animal testing

During the initial stages of drug discovery, often referred to as preclinical trials, new chemical entities (NCEs) are monitored to determine the life cycle of the compounds inside and outside of the targeted system (pharmacokinetics) and their chemical reactions (metabolism). Because of the ethical issues surrounding human trials and their high costs, a significant number of these early tests are performed on animals.

While the transition from preclinical animal testing to clinical human trials has improved thanks to better research tools and the rise of artificial intelligence in target identification, there is still a real need for improved preclinical screening because animal testing often fails to recapitulate the complexity of the human metabolism, leading to false positives and negatives that do not accurately reflect the toxicity of drugs to human systems.

3D cell cultures are more relevant

Given the limitations of animal models, it is no wonder that scientists have turned to human organ models. But although human cells have long been cultured in 2D, in recent years, a paradigm shift has led more and more scientists to recognize the importance of working with human cells in the 3D environments afforded by bioprinting in order to produce more physiologically relevant models. Combining the automation of cell culturing in 3D bioprinting with carefully tailored biomaterials, known as bioinks, has made it possible to grow, feed and maintain human organ models in larger quantities and in a lot less time, reducing time and labor spent on these tasks. Laboratory robotics can also now pick and place cell culture reagents or other NCEs and liquid samples in high numbers, enabling higher throughput screening and running a variety of other laboratory tasks more efficiently.

Bioinks better mimic ECM

Bioinks are another powerful tool that help researchers advance their drug discovery research. Tissue-specific bioinks improve cell adhesion and differentiation, helping with the formation of human organoids. Proteins and other biological factors can also be added to more accurately recreate extracellular matrices (ECM), once again better simulating the in vivo microenvironments. Furthermore, with multiple methods of crosslinking (chemical, light, thermal), the stiffness of constructs can be modulated to better serve specific cell types, like cartilage or bone tissue.

Learn more

Bioprinting’s more relevant human organ models can save the drug industry time and money by more efficiently identifying viable compounds in the initial stages of drug development in order to move only the most promising compounds to costly human clinical trials. The technology’s growing influence means that scientists continue to validate more and more applications. Dive deeper into how the bioprinting industry is changing drug screening and development. Watch our webinar on 3D bioprinting for COVID-19 studies or read our application note, which discusses the effectiveness of testing drug efficacy in 2D and 3D.

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3D Printing and Virtual Surgery Help Repair Damage to Patient’s Face

3D printed surgical guides and virtual surgical planning (VSP) have been used in many types of procedures, such as knee replacement, spinal surgery, and reconstruction of chest walls and faces. But when it comes to reconstructing complex maxillofacial deformities, this kind of computer-aided technology is used far more often for bony reconstruction than for soft tissue. A team of researchers from the University of Michigan published a paper, “Using a 3D Printed “Phantom of the Opera” Soft Tissue Surgical Guide for Complex Facial Reconstruction,” about their work utilizing VSP and 3D printed guides to help a patient suffering complex soft tissue damage from a gunshot wound.

“In ballistic injuries there is often disfiguring damage to the soft tissue, with destruction of anatomic landmarks making satisfactory soft tissue reconstruction a unique challenge,” the abstract states. “By combining tangible surgical models and aesthetic judgment in a team setting, it is possible to optimize the efficiency and accuracy of soft tissue reconstruction in the setting of complex facial deformities.”

Ballistic facial injuries are extremely challenging to reconstruct, as both bony and soft tissue are damaged, and often there are tissue burns and contamination as well. For their study, the researchers presented a case that integrated VSP, 3D printed surgical guides, and anaplastology—a branch of medicine dealing with the prosthetic rehabilitation of an absent, disfigured, or malformed anatomically critical location of the face or body—to provide a 19-year-old female patient with “improved facial symmetry and orbital prosthesis accommodation.”

Preoperative photograph of a 19-year-old female with history of facial injury, status post debridement, ORIF of facial fractures, left globe enucleation. Arrows indicate antro-cutaneous fistulas.

Initially, the patient went to another facility, presenting with major facial injuries such as left globe rupture and fractures of the bilateral orbits, zygomas, maxilla, nasal bones, and septum. While there, she received a tracheostomy and “multiple facial washouts,” had her fractures fixed, and her left eye enucleated. Unfortunately, she later developed painful “antro-cutaneous fistulas at the bilateral malar regions” and was transferred to the U Mich facility for further reconstructive surgery.

The team used a “free tissue transfer” to reconstruct all of the patient’s facial wounds, which would close the fistula and help reconstitute her soft tissue. While this helped with her pain, it unfortunately made the left side of her face heavier, which, when paired with gravity, caused major asymmetry. So they moved on from wound control to “restoring her facial contours” and getting her an orbital prosthesis.

Patient after latissimus dorsi myocutaneous flap reconstruction, with significant facial asymmetry.

They paired VSP mirroring technology with the dimensions of the proposed prosthesis to 3D print custom surgical guides to facilitate “precise debulking and resuspension of the left malar soft tissue and peri-orbita.” The researchers used Materialise Mimics to isolate the relevant bony and soft tissue anatomy, and then imported the image into 3Matic to create a clear model. Qualitative metrics and quantitative measurement were used to find “a sagittal plane of symmetry,” over which the unaffected part of the patient’s face was mirrored onto the left side.

“The shape of the resulting left orbital sphere was edited to the specific dimensions of the prototype orbital prosthesis provided by our anaplastologist,” they wrote.

Illustration of mirroring technique to achieve facial symmetry and creation of ideal left orbit utilizing data from the patient’s unaffected side and specifications of the planned orbital prosthesis. (Materialise Mimics Innovation Suite; Belgium).

The patient approved the virtual images for her planned reconstruction, and a custom guide was 3D printed for the “left orbital debulking portion of the surgery,” and another was made for the “left malar recontouring and suspension surgery.” If you’re familiar with “The Phantom of the Opera” musical, this second 3D printed surgical guide resembles the mask that the Phantom himself wears.

“In order to maximize use of the guides intraoperatively, 2 posts were added to the external surface of the orbital guide, and 2 matching slots were created on the internal surface of the malar mask. This allowed for implantation of the guides separately or in conjunction depending on intraoperative need,” the researchers explained. “Square cells were also cut from the malar mask to create a lattice that would allow the surgeons to visualize the patient’s face when the guide was in place.”

The guides were printed out of biocompatible Dental SG resin on a Form 2. I’ll leave out all of the surgical details, but suffice it to say the procedures were all successful, and eight months later, the patient showed major improvements “in the symmetry of her midface and periorbital regions.”

“Although we have only presented 1 patient with limited follow up, this case demonstrates a new application of computer aided technology and adds to the armamentarium of the maxillofacial surgeon,” they wrote.

3D printed models of the surgical guides for left orbit and cheek. The guides were modified to be interlocking. The malar mask had a lattice structure that allowed for better visualization of underlying structures.

While things worked out here, there are still challenges in using computer aided technology to reconstruct soft tissue, such as “the natural irregularity” in a human face and the fact that soft tissue is very sensitive to inflammation, as well as dynamic, meaning it can’t be totally immobilized.

“As such, deformational forces and involuntary activation of facial muscles during the course of imaging can distort the measurements and lead to inaccurate calculations,” the researchers explained.

“Surgeons must therefore still use their judgment and account for the long-term effects of scar tissue and gravity when developing the virtual model.”

Additionally, there can be increased costs if the hospital has not already adopted VSP, 3D printing, and CAD/CAM technologies. But overall, I’d call this a success story.

Postoperative patient photo demonstrating improved facial symmetry 8 months after surgery.

“Although it cannot replace clinical judgment, computer aided technology can produce better, more accurate outcomes and should be considered for soft tissue reconstruction,” the team concluded.

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LuminoGO: Comfortable and Sustainable 3D Printed Face Mask

LUMINO was founded by Bernhard Neuwirth, Michael Marcovici and Nadine Damblon to provide a new type of face mask that would be comfortable and reusable. The LuminoGo mask allows the wearer’s face to be fully visible and sterilizes breathing air with UVC light or with an integrated filter. Using Shapeways’ services to 3D print nearly all of the parts for the mask, the LUMINO team was able to prototype quickly and affordably with different material and color options.

We interviewed Bernhard Neuwirth, CTO of LUMINO, to understand how they utilized Shapeways’ 3D printing technology and services to develop their innovative face mask.

Can you take us through the start of LUMINO?

When the pandemic
started in China, my business partner Michael Marcovici and I, were in the
business of freeze dryer production. Our business slowed down immediately, as
we could not get many needed parts anymore. While we have been in lockdown in
Austria we started to look into the mask market and the various designs.

LuminoGO – UV-C based ventilated sterilizing mask. Image source: LUMINO

How has the pandemic influenced your business decisions?

The pandemic certainly was the reason for us to look into mask design and technology. But LUMINO was certainly not created just for the pandemic, we believe the design solves many problems of current masks on the market. The currently used masks in urgent care are one-way disposable. We want a product that is nice to wear and sustainable.

Who are LUMINO’s customers?

The LUMINO mask is
a very versatile product and has up to 16 different configurations, its use
ranges from hospitals to sales personnel, from bartenders to public services
and many more. LUMINO can be configured to sterilize in one or both ways (in
and exhale) it can be equipped with ventilators for fresh air and easy
breathing. It can be used with traditional filters as well as our own developed
UVC light module that kills germs with ultraviolet light.

Shapeways was helpful in every way from early on in the project. I especially liked the very fast production options, the choice of materials and the amazing quality of the product.

Bernhard Neuwirth, CTO of LUMINO

Which parts of LUMINO’s products are 3D printed? Why did you choose to 3D print them?

Almost all parts
are 3D printed. The main reasons for us have been fast prototyping, fast
production, choice of materials and colours, which is important for branding
and personalization. The big difference with competitors is that we have
already working prototypes.

LuminoGO in multiple colors. Image source: LUMINO

What is the benefit of using Shapeways over more traditional manufacturing methods?

Shapeways was
helpful in every way from early on in the project. I especially liked the very
fast production options, the choice of materials and the amazing quality of the
product. Traditional production methods would be injection moulding. We will
certainly do that in the future. Meanwhile we produce already, while optimising
the product. We use 3D-print as a production method.

What 3D printing materials do you use and why?

We mainly use Nylon in SLS (Versatile Plastic) as material. It is cost-effective, high resolution, heat and moisture resistant, and nearly unbreakable. Furthermore there is no allergic reaction with the human wearer (good biocompatibility).

How did you find Shapeways?

I’ve known
Shapeways for many years as one of the top addresses for 3D printing, so we did
not need to search actually.

How has Shapeways’ speed of manufacturing helped with your production process?

We had about 4
iterations of prototyping, most of the time we used the fastest production and
shipping option and have saved overall probably a month in development time.

What is the most important aspect of working with Shapeways for you?

We wanted a
partner that can deliver even in difficult times. We were amazed that all the
delivery was on time and that we could easily reach sales to get support.

What are some of LUMINO’s ambitions for the future?

The aim of the [Indiegogo] campaign is to get to the market, meet the minimum order quantity for many of the electronics parts of the product and get certification for the product in the main markets.

Prototype with Shapeways

Because 3D printing offers such a quick production turnaround, the LUMINO team was able to prototype and create their face mask in a very short amount of time. This allows them to very quickly circulate a new mask that maintains visibility, comfort and safety for anyone working in close contact with others.

Do you have your own innovative ideas? Upload your design and start printing with Shapeways now.

learn more

The post LuminoGO: Comfortable and Sustainable 3D Printed Face Mask appeared first on Shapeways Blog.

Blind Parents “See” Baby’s Face with 3D Printed Ultrasound Models

People who are blind use their hands to see what their eyes cannot, and 3D printing has been very helpful in creating more tactile opportunities and experiences for the visually impaired, whether it’s learning math skills or taking medication independently. The technology can also help give blind parents-to-be a really important and powerful experience: the chance to “see” their baby’s face before birth.

Melissa Riccobono, President of the Maryland Parents of Blind Children, a division of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), said, “For families, instead of having to show them a picture of an ultrasound, how cool it would be for them to get their hands on it, what the baby is like now.”

By using 3D images from ultrasounds to create a model of the fetus, visually impaired mothers and fathers can actually handle and feel their unborn baby’s face, which is obviously a very meaningful experience as they can’t see the typical 2D ultrasound photographs.

Taylor Ellis and 6-week old Rosalie. Ellis is blind but technology allowed her to get a 3D bas-relief model from the in utero ultrasound image of Rosalie’s face. “It feels super-real when you can feel it,” she says, adding it was like she was pregnant for the first time because she had so much detail.

26-year-old Taylor Ellis of Cockeysville, MD, who is blind, received a 3D bas-relief of her daughter Rosalie’s face while she was still pregnant with her.

“I was a little bit nervous about opening the box. I had never seen a 3-D [image], and now, it’s your baby, and it’s, like, wow,” Ellis said about the “really emotional” moment.

While we’ve seen a few companies offer this service, this particular version of the idea came about several years ago, when Dr. Jena Miller, an obstetrician and surgeon with the Johns Hopkins Center for Fetal Therapy, realized she could use 3D printing to get a clearer image of the spines of babies she was treating in utero for spina bifida, a malformation of the vertebrae that exposes the spinal column. The surgery she performs is minimally invasive, but still tricky, as it’s conducted through two small ports in the expectant mother’s uterus. But by creating a 3D printed model of the baby and placing it inside a soccer ball, the surgical team can practice the procedure ahead of time.

Dr. Miller explained that typically, 3D ultrasounds are just for diagnostic purposes, but said one of the hospital’s ultrasound sonographers had the idea to make 3D printed ultrasound models of the baby’s face when completing a scan for a visually impaired mother. She asked Dr. Miller, who answered, “See if you can capture a good picture.”

High school teacher Pamela Lauer is not blind, but ended up being the first Johns Hopkins parent to receive a 3D printed model of her baby’s face, due to the fact that 3D ultrasounds were needed for her unborn son, who developed a congenital cyst that was affecting his heart. Because the technicians saw how interested Lauer and her husband were in the technology, they sent the new parents a 3D print of his face after they were home from the hospital.

“That was awesome and amazing. It looks like him,” Lauer said about the model of her son, who is now almost four years old and healthy.

Jeremy and Taylor Ellis with Rosalie.

Ellis and her husband Jeremy, also visually impaired, already had two daughters, and she still had some vision when they were born. But her glaucoma has progressed since then, so getting the 3D printed model of Rosalie’s face was really exciting, as it offered so much more detail. For example, she was hoping the baby would have her husband’s nose, and not hers.

“The one thing that is just super-distinct and obvious and just perfect is the nose. It feels just like my husband’s,” Ellis said about the model.

Riccobono and her husband Mark, the President of the NFB, along with two of their three children, are blind, and she wished that 3D prints of the faces of her unborn babies had been available when she was pregnant.

Riccobono said, “It was always a little sad for me not to be able to actually see that ultrasound.

“It’s a really cool way to meet that little being inside of you before you actually meet that little being.”

She believes this would be an amazing service for many expectant parents.

Ellis holds the 3D ultrasound image of her baby, Rosalie.

Dr. Miller has not heard of other hospitals offering this 3D printed ultrasound service, which costs about $1.40 in materials and takes about 3.5 hours to print. While she agrees with Riccobono, she does note that ultrasounds are still diagnostic tools and “not for fun.”

“We have to be a little bit careful,” she cautioned.

“But we should take every opportunity to enhance the pregnancy experience for moms, no matter what it is they’re challenged with.

“So if it’s blind moms, and we can give them a unique experience, we should always elevate their level of care.”

(Source: The Washington Post / Images: Andrew Mangum for The Washington Post)

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3D Printing Webinar and Virtual Event Roundup, August 16, 2020

We’ve got virtual events and webinars this week covering everything from sustainability and forming to metal and medical additive manufacturing. Read on to learn what’s available!

NatureWorks 3D Considers Sustainability in AM

Biotechnology company NatureWorks 3D is hosting a webinar this Tuesday, August 18th, at 1 pm EDT, titled “Printing Consciously: Considering Sustainability in 3D Printing.” The free webinar will last about one hour, and cover topics such as circular vs. linear model of materials, mechanical and chemical recycling, best practices for used FFF 3D printing materials, environmental impacts of using bio-based and petrochemical-based filaments, and more. Dan Sawyer, the company’s Business Development Manager, and Deepak Venkatraman, Applications Development Engineer for NatureWorks, will share some thoughts and insights into how polymers fit into the circular economy approach in order to decrease the AM industry’s impact on the world.

“A renewed focus on climate change and the impacts petrochemical plastics have on the environment has many individuals and companies considering how they can incorporate more sustainable practices into their efforts. The additive manufacturing industry has long been a leader in how technology can fit into a progression toward a more sustainable production. In this webinar, we will dig into the sustainability attributes behind the materials often used in fused filament fabrication (FFF) processes that have an environmental impact. We’ll also talk about how 3D prints fit within common waste scenarios as well as new sustainability frameworks like the circular economy.”

There will be a question and answer session at the end of the webinar; register here to attend.

EOS Introduces the INTEGRA P 450

Also on August 18th, EOS is holding a webinar at 2 pm EDT to introduce its latest system, titled “From R&D to Production: Introducing the INTEGRA P 450.” This mid-size, SLS industrial additive manufacturing system was developed by EOS North America, based off of direct feedback from the manufacturing community and built to “meet the demand for additive manufacturing of polymers, it empowers designers, production engineers and material makers alike.” In addition to gaining an understanding of the INTEGRA P 450‘s material compatibilities and development opportunities, attendees will also learn about the company’s new open software platform. Speakers will be Fabian Krauss, EOS North America’s Global Business Development Manager, Polymers; Mohit Chaudhary, Additive Manufacturing Specialist, Polymers – Solution Engineering, for EOS North America; and Mike Conner, EOS North America’s Vice President of Service and Support.

“Discover how the INTEGRA P 450 is truly the most flexible and accommodating SLS industrial 3D printer on the market, with an impressive array of new user-friendly features that offer unprecedented productivity, material compatibility, and simple serviceability.”

Register for the webinar here.

Protolabs Discussing Forming and Formed Features

As part of its ongoing webinar series, Protolabs will be discussing sheet metal forming during its webinar, “A Deep Dive on Forming and Formed Features,” on Wednesday, August 19th, at 2 pm EDT. James Hayes, Protolabs Applications Engineer and the company’s technical applications engineering expert for sheet metal fabrication, will offer insight into forming techniques and equipment, as well as important design considerations for sheet metal forming, and how they can impact part geometry. You’ll leave with new knowledge and insight into how to leverage formed features, and improve sheet metal part designs.

“Understanding the ins and outs of sheet metal forming can be fraught with challenges, however there are some important things to know that can result in better designed, more cost-efficient parts. In addition, considerations between how different formed features can impact your product throughout its’ lifecycle can help you achieve your product goals and bring your ideas to market at record speeds.”

Register for the webinar here.

ASME’s AM Medical Live Webinar

Last week, ASME was powering the AM Industry Summit, for 3D printing professionals working in the aerospace and defense and medical device manufacturing fields. Now it’s hosting a live webinar this Thursday, August 20th, from 2-3 pm EDT, supported by Women in 3D Printing and titled “Integrating 3D Printing with Other Technologies at the Point of Care.” Speakers will be Sarah Flora, the Radiology Program Director for the 3D Lab at Geisinger Health; Amy Alexander, MS, Senior Biomedical Engineer at the Mayo Clinic’s Anatomic Modeling Lab; and the Director of the 3D Imaging Lab at Montefiore Medical Center, Nicole Wake, PhD. They will be discussing how 3D printing is often a very important medical tool when it comes to patient care.

“Whether anatomical models or guides are used for education or surgical planning, radiologists, surgeons, and engineers work together to improve the patient experience. Leveraging 3D printing with other technologies can expand the value within a clinical setting. Three leading clinical engineers will discuss technologies that can be used together to extend the usefulness of 3D printing including silicone casting, surface scanning, augmented reality, and more. Join the discussion to explore the unexpected ways to increase the benefits of 3D printing.”

The webinar is free to attend, and you can register for it here.

IDTechEx on Metal Additive Manufacturing

Finally, also on August 20th, IDTechEx will be holding its latest free, expert-led webinar, “Metal AM: Short-Term Pain, Long-Term Gain.” Presented by Dr. Richard Collins, IDTechEx’s Principal Analyst, the webinar, which shares some research from the company’s detailed “Metal Additive Manufacturing 2020-2030” report, will provide an overview of the latest key trends and market forecast for metal additive manufacturing, the latest material considerations and entrant analysis, technology benchmarking, the impact of COVID-19, and more.

“Metal additive manufacturing has been gaining traction. Increased number of use-cases, end-users progressing along the learning curve, more competition, and a maturing supply chain. The applications have been led in high-value industries most notably aerospace & defence and medical, many more are emerging in automotive, oil & gas, and beyond. These sectors have had very different fates during the global pandemic and the knock-on effect will be profound. There are some silver-linings and the long-term outlook is positive for this industry, but it will not be an easy ride. IDTechEx forecast the total annual market for metal additive manufacturing to exceed $10bn by 2030. This is not before a very challenging immediate future; a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Three different sessions of this 30-minute webinar will be offered, the first of which will actually take place at 9 pm EST, on the 19th. The next one will be at 5 am EST, and the final session will be at 12 PM EST. You can register for your preferred session here.

ASTM’s AM General Personnel Certificate Program

Don’t forget, the ASTM International Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence (AM CoE) is still offering its online AM General Personnel Certificate course, which continues through August 27th and is made up of eight modules covering all the general concepts of the AM process chain. Register for the class here.

Will you attend any of these events and webinars, or have news to share about future ones? Let us know! 

The post 3D Printing Webinar and Virtual Event Roundup, August 16, 2020 appeared first on 3DPrint.com | The Voice of 3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing.

How is 3D Printing Innovating Medical Research in 2020?

3D printing technologies are pushing the boundaries of what was once considered only possible in science fiction novels. The advances being made by engineers from around the world are contributing to a plethora of innovations that are having a major impact on conventional medical practice. Medical researchers have been able to develop solutions in the form of patient-specific prostheses and pre-operative models, tailored, corrective insoles and orthotics, new medical devices and instruments, and 3D bioprinting and tissue engineering. In this article, we will provide a brief review of some of the latest 3D printing technologies and methods that are inspiring medical research.

planning, prostheses, and implants

The rapid prototyping capability of 3D printing is offering the medical community a fast and cost-effective way of delivering life-altering medical interventions and solutions to patients. For individuals that require a prosthesis or implants such as a bionic hand or leg bone, 3D printing is providing a functional and affordable way to generate patient-tailored parts. The technology offers complete design freedom and rapid turn-around times. 

Using high-resolution images, 3D printing is able to generate accurate models of human anatomy. Image data can be exported as a common medical file format, DICOM (digital imaging and communication in medicine), which can then be converted into a stereolithography format (STL) file. From this file, a 3D virtual model can be created. For orthopedic surgery, implants can be made from these models to replace fractured bones. Further, virtual or physical models can be used by surgeons in pre-operative planning and for teaching patients, alleviating their stress and anxiety by explaining what a procedure would entail.

Biological tissue

In early June of this year, scientists from the University of Colorado (UC) Denver and the University of Science and Technology in China were the first to use new material to 3D print structures that could mimic cartilage. Cartilage replacement has been a notoriously difficult hurdle to cross for scientists and healthcare professionals until now. UC Denver’s mechanical engineer, professor Chris Yakacki, led the team of researchers in using a 3D printing process called digital light processing (DLP) to create a liquid crystal resin-like substance. When exposed to UV-light the researchers observed that the substance cured and formed new bonds in several thin photopolymer layers. The final cured form constituted a strong, yet soft, and compliant elastomer. when printed as a latticed, honeycomb structure, that’s when Yakacki and his team saw that it began to resemble cartilage. Their research findings were published in the journal Advanced Materials.

In addition to utilizing this breakthrough material for cartilage replacement, Yakacki also believes there is potential for liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) to be used in the creation of a spinal cage prototype. The design of complex structures like LCE’s and the use of bioinks to help produce artificial live tissue will provide the medical research community with unique scaffolds with which to generate different components of the human body.


One particular area gaining interest by researchers and clinicians is
the design of patient-specific bone grafts. Associate professor at the Department of Biomedical
Engineering at Texas A&M University, Dr. Akhilesh Gaharwar, believes that developing
replacement bone tissues may be an exciting prospect in the generation of
treatments to help people with dental infections, arthritis, craniofacial
defects, and bone fractures. This is where bioinks enter the scene. In a recent
publication, Dr.
Gaharwar outlines the creation of a structurally stable, biodegradable, and
highly printable bioink. Garharwar’s nanoengineered ionic covalent entanglement
(NICE) bioinks involve two reinforcement techniques known as nonreinforcement
and ionic-covalent network. The use of these two techniques results in much
more stable tissue structures.

Following bioprinting, the NICE
networks form crosslinks with encapsulated stem cells to create stronger
scaffolds. Within the period of three months, the cells start to produce
cartilage-like extracellular matrix which calcifies to form mineralized bone.
The team used next-generation RNA-sequencing technology to establish the role
of nanosilicates (a component of the bioink) in inducing the formation of bone
tissue. Dr. Gaharwar and his team successfully demonstrated the ability of NICE
bioink to create patient-specific implantable 3D frameworks for the repair of craniofacial defects.


Medical research centered around the custom design of orthotics still
bears the stigma of a high price tag and inaccessibility which can be an
irritable deterrent for healthcare providers trying to do the best for their
patients and a disheartening prospect for patients respectively. The revelatory
story of Matej
and his son Nik, shows how powerful a tool 3D printing can be in advancing
medical and engineering research, efficient medical practice, and optimizing
patient care.

One of the latest uses for 3D printing in the world of orthotics was the design of a cervical collar using a novel workflow for a patient with a neurological disability with no alternative means of therapy. Dr. Luke Hale and Associate Professor Dr. Deepak Kalaskar from UCL’s Institute of Musculoskeletal Sciences (IOMS) led the research which was published in Scientific Reports. The research team scanned the head and neck of the patient with a handheld scanner to generate a 3D scan mesh. This framework was then imported into Houdini software (SideFX software, version 16.5). The geometry projected onto the 3D scan conforms with it completely to create a comfortable orthosis.

Using the scan, the design of the orthosis was optimized to incorporate modifications including a porous pattern to improve ventilation. This also reduces the cost and weight of the final orthosis. Four prototypes of the cervical collar were made to accommodate patient feedback and achieve the most comfortable design. The research validated the use of using 3D printing and scanning alongside a tailored workflow for clinically beneficial outcomes while allowing for iteration, modification, and improvement of the design.

These are only some of the latest medical research advancements coming
to fruition with the revolutionary technology of 3D printing. 4D printing and
the use of novel bioinks for organ tissue generation are some more fascinating
research prospects to look forward to in 2020. 

Are you a veteran of medical 3D printing looking for a bespoke manufacturing service, or, are you new to the scene and would like expert guidance? Find out how Shapeways can help with your medical 3D printing needs.

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Exactech Transitions from EBM to Laser 3D Printing Implants for Shoulders

Orthopedic implant device maker Exactech wants to scale up the production of its Equinoxe Stemless Shoulder implant by switching from electron beam metal additive manufacturing to direct metal 3D printing with high precision lasers. In an official statement released on July 21, 2020, the Florida-based company announced plans to transition all US stemless shoulder procedures to its laser-printed devices throughout the rest of the year.

As the latest addition to the company’s extremities product line, the Stemless Shoulder, launched in 2018, is a bone conserving prosthesis designed for anatomic total shoulder arthroplasty. Comprised of a stemless cage, humeral head, and cage glenoid, the device offers intraoperative flexibility which is ideal for conserving the bone, said the company. Furthermore, to enhance the probability of biological fixation, it incorporated a laser 3D printed porous bone cage structure that allows bone-through growth, and without the need for a stem, there is more ease of implantation, reduced operating time, and blood loss. Exactech indicated that the innovative combination of 3D porous material and bone cage technology is what differentiates it from competing products on the market.

The new Equinoxe Stemless Shoulder uses laser-printed AM (Image courtesy of Exactech)

Currently, there is a growing trend towards minimally invasive orthopedic surgeries, like stemless shoulder implant procedures mainly led by experts in Germany and France. However, US surgeons also took notice of the benefits of using stemless implants to perform arthroplasties with less bone removal and fewer complications than more conventional anatomic shoulder prosthesis.

Driven by an upsurge in the aging population, longer life expectancy, and rising prevalence of arthritis, the global shoulder arthroplasty market is expected to reach $2.4 billion by 2023, and that includes increased demand for stemless shoulder implants, as forecasted by Koncept Analytics last year. In the US alone, over 53,000 people have shoulder replacement surgery each year, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and with only a handful of stemless shoulder implants cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2015 (including the Equinoxe Stemless Shoulder), there is a wide-open market opportunity for medical device manufacturers to exploit. Expecting to become a leading force in the stemless implant market, Exactech is switching technologies to deliver quick solutions for patients and surgeons.

“We have been incredibly pleased with our original EBM [electron beam melting] Stemless Shoulder implant and the early positive clinical feedback we received from our surgeon customers. The new laser-printed device is built on this solid foundation while also giving us the ability to ramp up production to serve even more patients, which drives us and fulfills our mission,” said Exactech Vice President of Extremities, Chris Roche.

Orthopedic surgeons Curtis Noel, of the Crystal Clinic in Akron, Ohio, and Stephanie Muh, of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan, were the first shoulder specialists to perform the surgeries with the Equinoxe Stemless Shoulder implant earlier this month. As a member of the design team, Noel expressed how proud he was to be one of the first to implant the laser-printed Stemless Shoulder, mainly due to the bone conserving design, along with its compatibility to the Equinoxe Shoulder Platform System.

Laser 3D printed porous structure designed to promote bone-through growth (Image courtesy of Exactech)

Muh described that “one of my favorite features of the Stemless implant is its bone cage structure that is designed to provide initial press-fit fixation while also allowing for bone-through growth. That intentional design element, along with the porous structure being designed to mimic the trabecular nature of cancellous bone, differentiates it from competitors.”

In order to design the Stemless Shoulder implant, Exactech engineering researchers collaborated with orthopedic surgeons that combined their knowledge, expertise, and background to come up with a final design structure that could be additively manufactured with optimized pore size, porosity, and count. The design team included Noel; shoulder and elbow surgery expert’s Felix Henry Savoie, from Tulane University, and Joseph Zuckerman from New York University (NYU)’s Langone Orthopaedic Hospital; Pierre-Henri Flurin, from the Clinique du Sport in Bordeaux-Mérignac, in France; Ryan Simovitch, the Director of the Shoulder Division at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Thomas Wright, Director of Interdisciplinary Center for Musculoskeletal Training at the University of Florida.

Pre-operative X-ray (left) and postoperative X-ray (right) showing the laser-printed Stemless Shoulder and Equinoxe Cage Glenoid. (Image courtesy of Stephanie Muh)

As a developer, and producer of innovative implants, instrumentation, and computer-assisted technologies for joint replacement surgery, Exactech targeted clinical evaluations of the Stemless Shoulder immediately after release and has been aggressively expanding and upgrading its product ever since. Just like other manufacturers of stemless implants, the goal here is to try to reproduce the native shoulder anatomy and minimize humeral bone removal. Recent studies. have outlined the numerous advantages – as well as a few disadvantages – of stemless shoulder implant arthroplasty, and although its use is still emerging outside of Europe, the implant is gaining ground with surgeons and patients and is expected to surpass stemmed implants by 2025.

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Medtronic to Acquire French Spinal Surgery Maker Medicrea, Strengthening 3D Printed Implants

As part of medical device maker Medtronic‘s push toward a fully integrated solution for surgical planning, the company announced its intent to acquire Medicrea, a French pioneer in innovative surgical technologies for the treatment of complex spinal pathologies, in a transaction valued at €7 ($8) per share. The all-cash agreement, set to purchase all of Medicrea’s outstanding shares, had unanimous approval by both companies and is expected to close by the end of 2020, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions from both France and the United States.

Medtronic treats the first U.S. patients with spinal surgery robot (Image courtesy of Medtronic)

“Combining Medtronic’s innovative portfolio of spine implants, robotics, navigation, and 3D imaging technology with Medicrea’s capabilities and solutions in data analytics, artificial intelligence, and personalized implants, would enhance Medtronic’s fully-integrated procedural solution for surgical planning and delivery. This marks another important step in furthering our commitment to improving outcomes in spine care,” said Jacob Paul, senior vice president and president of the Cranial and Spinal Technologies division, which is part of the Restorative Therapies Group at Medtronic, headquartered in Ireland. “Medtronic will become the first company to be able to offer an integrated solution including artificial intelligence-driven surgical planning, personalized spinal implants and robotic-assisted surgical delivery, which will significantly benefit our customers and their patients.”

Following news of the deal, Medicrea shares jumped by 20% in regular trading, most likely due to the premium the acquiring company was set to pay on the target’s share price, in this case, 22 percent over the closing price of Medicrea shares on 14 July 2020.

Medicrea’s UNiD technology (Image courtesy of Medicrea)

The deal will allow Medtronic to incorporate Medicrea’s latest innovations, which include the UNiD ASI (Adaptive Spine Intelligence) technology, designed to support surgeon workflow in pre-operative planning and incorporating 3D printing processes to create personalized implant solutions for surgery. The company’s portfolio also consists of artificial intelligence-driven surgical planning using predictive modeling and sophisticated algorithms that measure and digitally reconstruct the spine to its optimal profile. As well as an ultra-modern manufacturing facility in Lyon, France housing the development and production of 3D printed titanium patient-specific implants.

“Spine surgery is one of the more complex procedures in healthcare because of the high number of different parameters to take into consideration. It is impossible for the human brain to compute all of them for one single patient,” said Denys Sournac, founder, chairman and CEO of Medicrea. “The medical world has been waiting for the arrival of customization in spinal surgery. With scientific progress in understanding sagittal balance and spinal injury, combined with the advent of new digital technologies, it is now possible to offer spinal patients entirely customized implants. We are thrilled to be joining forces with Medtronic because we share a similar mission to restore the long-term quality of life for patients. Now, together, we can help more patients in more places benefit from consistently high-quality surgical care.”

3D-printed spinal implants from Medicrea (Image courtesy of Medicrea)

The news comes amid expectations of an eventual recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and as Medtronic’s stock bounces back from a significant fall in the early months after COVID-19 emerged. The overall decline in procedures and supply chain disruptions have been among the key causes of concern for Medtronic, as well as impacted sales generated from China.

Medtronic said in a statement that the completion of the deal was subject to Medtronic getting at least 66.67% of Medicrea’s share capital. Up until now, Medtronic has entered into agreements with Medicrea shareholders totaling 44.4% of the company’s current outstanding share capital. The tender offer is expected to be filed with the French Markets Authority (AMF) in September 2020 and will be opened once the foreign investment approval in France and the merger control clearance in the United States are finalized.

Over the last seven decades, Medtronic has introduced a wide range of products to treat up to 70 health conditions, from cardiac devices and surgical tools to cranial and spine robotics, even insulin pumps, and patient monitoring systems. In the last few years, teams of scientists and engineers at the company have been working on new possibilities for personalized medicine using 3D printing technology, like its titanium 3D printing platform for spinal surgery implants. At the company’s facility, seven 3D printers work around the clock filling orders for rapid prototyping and medical models that allow doctors to practice procedures on life-like simulations. Additionally, researchers from Medtronic teamed up with academia to create a new operating room system powered by personalized 3D images, to give neurosurgeons better tools to remove brain tumors.

Medtronic headquarters in Dublin, Ireland (Image courtesy of Medtronic)

As of 2017, Medtronic was the leader in the U.S. market for spinal implants with a share of over one third. Once the acquisition is complete, the company will be able to expand and strengthen its position as a global innovator in further enabling technologies and solutions for spine surgery.

Spinal procedures are considered by experts as one of the most painful in neurosurgery and orthopedics, with over 1.62 million instrumented interventions performed every year. ResearchMoz analysts predicted the global spine surgery products market to hit $16.7 billion by 2025, mainly due to an increase in spine disorder cases among the geriatric population. The demand for innovative, minimally invasive solutions to this problem is critical for patient healthcare, which is why Medtronic is looking towards the predictive medicine opportunity that Medicrea has been developing, by collecting an unprecedented amount of data to develop its proprietary predictive models and employing disruptive technologies in every step of the way. Overall, the combination of the companies’ technical know-how would probably improve the clinical experience for patients and strengthen the future of spinal health.

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How 3D Printing Boosts Innovation in the Medical Field

3D printing is becoming a crucial tool in the innovation of medical supplies, equipment and procedures as it caters to a rising demand in patient-specific products. The technology’s capacity for complex design, customization, time/cost efficiency and the availability of sterilizable, biocompatible materials have all led to substantial advancements in the medical industry in recent years. Here are a few examples of how 3D printing has led to positive progress.

Training & Practicing

3D Printing offers an affordable way of printing specific models that can allow for more precise training for surgeons. Models of organs, for example, can be printed in a material that resembles human tissue, like silicone, and can be a more affordable and less-stressful source of practice than using human cadavers. Thanks to CTs, MRIs and 3D scanning technology, physicians can 3D print exact replicas of organs, bones, or any other part of their patient to gain a better understanding of what they will be facing in surgery or treatment. This gives them a chance to practice and develop improved surgical planning, which can speed up surgery time, creating less chances of infection and minimizing patient trauma.

medical expert in 3d printing

Surgical Instruments

In any surgical procedure, the utmost precision is needed to ensure success. Thanks to rapid prototyping and the ability for customization, 3D printing allows for surgeons to have access to personalized and procedure-specific instruments. These instruments can be altered to better fit a surgeon’s hands, or a patient’s anatomy, and patient specific surgical guides can increase accuracy and efficiency to greatly improve surgical outcomes. Because modifications on 3D printed tools can be achieved quickly, this equips physicians with functionally improved tools that facilitate their operative techniques and the procedure at hand. Instruments can be printed in a number of different materials depending on their needs, including titanium, stainless steel as well as sterilizable biocompatible plastics. The potential for customization is limitless, and costs do not necessarily increase with instrument complexity.


Prosthetics also benefit hugely from an ability to create patient-specific models, as getting them fitted is traditionally a prolonged and expensive process. Using 3D printing to create prosthetics that can fit someone’s particular anatomy perfectly is a cheaper and faster alternative. Prosthetics can be flexible, stronger, less bulky and easily personalized with the help of 3D printing. The significantly lower costs make them a better option for children who need access to new prosthetics as they grow. With contactless 3D scanning and printing, maxillofacial prosthetics can be produced easier than ever before. Eye, nose and ear prosthetics have been printed with silicone to perfectly fit patients who have lost or were born without facial parts to restore facial geometry and aesthetic. The customization power of 3D technology will continue to make it a key player in the innovation of future prosthetics.

Orthopaedic Implants

3D printing contributes greatly to the advancement of orthopaedic implants. The possibility of geometric freedom, customization options and quick iterations have the potential to produce implants that fit patients better than ever before, therefore increasing their longevity and comfort. 3D technology also facilitates the creation of porous bone replacement scaffolds, allowing for natural bone ingrowth and ongrowth.

Hearing Aids

Thanks to 3D scanning, hearing aid shells and earpieces can be digitally fitted to exact anatomical specifications and customized pieces can be mass-produced. This has the potential of giving many more people than ever access to hearing aids with optimal fit, all thanks to the digitization of the design process.

shapeways 3d printed swabs

Testing / Covid Swabs

With the spread of COVID-19, the healthcare industry saw an immobilizing shortage of supplies due to the closure of traditional suppliers. 3D printing was able to meet many urgent needs by producing PPE supplies and ventilator parts at an astounding rate. Face shield designs were quickly optimized and printed by the thousands to help protect healthcare and plant workers dealing with exposure. Sterilized nasal swabs were also produced quickly to help increase testing ability. The speed and efficiency of 3D printing processes made it a crucial tool in providing immediate relief to emergency medical shortages.

Tissue Engineering

Tissue engineering focuses on finding new ways of developing or regenerating damaged tissue, creating models that can be used to study tissue development or for screening drugs. In order to regenerate or grow tissue, an appropriate scaffold needs to provide the right environment for growth. 3D bioprinting provides more control than conventional methods and enables the fabrication of structurally and biologically complex constructs and scaffolds to facilitate tissue engineering with the use of bio-inks. Researchers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a way of 3D printing living skin by using two sets of bio-inks. Grafted onto the backs of immunodeficient mice, the blood vessels of the 3D printed skin successfully transferred blood and nutrients to the mice’s blood vessels. Though this research is not quite ready for use with humans, it is one of many examples of the immense potential of 3D printing in live tissue engineering.

Medical Grade Materials

To print medical equipment it is especially important that, depending on the application, the material be compatible with a biological system. Instruments must be sterilizable and strong, implants or other pieces to be placed inside the body must be biocompatible and corrosion-resistant. 3D printing provides many plastics and metals that are suitable. Nylon PA-12 is durable, sterilizable and corrosion-resistant and is also one of the most affordable medical grade materials to use. Stainless steel is also biocompatible and good for surgical instruments and temporary implants.

3D printing is quickly becoming an essential tool in the medical industry where personalization and precision are key. From improved surgical planning and tools, to better fitting prosthetics and implants and advancing tissue regeneration, 3D printing will only continue to boost the potential to improve and save lives.

Shapeways offers industrial, medical-grade materials in our FDA-listed facilities. For all of your medical 3D printing needs, find out how we can help.

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