Sydney Researchers Developing iFix Eye Treatment 3D Pen

Researchers at the University of Sydney are looking to develop an entirely new portable method for treating particular corneal complications. The research team have come up with the iFix for sealing eye wounds as treatment for corneal ulcerations, which works by coloring in with bioinks the same way one would with a 3D printing pen. […]

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Researchers Develop Highly Stretchable Hydrogel For 3D Printing

From biomedicine to soft robots discoveries, hydrogels have opened a whole new world for 3D printing applications. They’ve been around for a while, providing crucial research into cell regeneration and tissue growth and so much more. Now, a new research project between Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI) […]

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LulzBot releases 3D Aerostruder Micro Tool Head for “penny-scale” 3D printed parts

Aleph Objects, the Colorado-based manufacturer of the LulzBot range of desktop 3D Printers, has unveiled a new, high-precision tool head at SIGGRAPH 2018 in Vancouver –  the LulzBot Aerostruder v2 Micro. With the ability to 3D print penny-scale parts, the LulzBot Aerostruder v2 Micro tool head can be used with both flexible and rigid filament for […]

3D Printing News Sliced, $11M project call, SLM Solutions, Aconity3D, Onshape

This edition of our 3D printing news digest Sliced features an $11 million funding pool  for flexible electronics; metal 3D printing’s expansion in the U.S.; life-changing fundraising for 3D bioprinters; mind-boggling 3D printed ceramics and more. Read on for the latest news from NextFlex, SLM Solutions, Aconity3D, Onshape, Bristol Children’s Hospital and Cunicode. NextFlex offers $11 […]

3D Printed Magnets In Functional Assemblies Could Lead to New Machines and Medical Devices

Since 3D printing began to diversify, allowing for the printing of materials beyond just metal and plastic, scientists have been experimenting with the 3D printing of magnets. 3D printed magnets can be made more quickly and less expensively than more conventional methods of production, and they can be easily made into complex geometries if so desired. While many researchers have 3D printed magnets, however, few actual use cases exist, but a new study entitled “3D Printing of Functional Assemblies with Integrated Polymer-Bonded Magnets Demonstrated with a Prototype of a Rotary Blood Pump,” applies 3D printed magnets to a rotary blood pump. Successfully 3D printing magnets embedded in 3D prints could open up the world to a whole host of new 3D printing applications. Tiny machines, medical devices, motors are just some of the things that could be possible. By letting a housing or another part of a device function as the case but also as a magnet the form factor and functionality of many devices could change radically.

To 3D print the pump, the ETH Zurich researchers created a filament made from thermoplastic combined with isotropic NdFeB powder. The material was used to 3D print a prototype of a turbodynamic pump with integrated magnets in the impeller and housing. The pump was 3D printed in one piece on a low-cost, consumer-level 3D printer (a Prusa i3 MK2 with a multi-material upgrade, to be exact), then the magnetic components were fully magnetized in a pulsed Bitter coil.

Besides heart transplantation, rotary blood pumps are the only option for patients suffering from end-stage heart failure. The pumps use magnets as critical components in the driving and bearing systems of the impeller. Unfortunately, currently available pumps have the side effects of hemolysis and thrombus formation, which manufacturers are attempting to address in the development of next-generation pumps. Regular 3D printing is being applied in the development of rotary blood pumps, but according to the researchers, to their knowledge, 3D printed magnets are not being used for testing new designs of medical devices.

“The basic design of the pump prototype is similar to that of conventional RBP designs—however, complicated geometries with inside twists and undercut elements would not allow for conventional manufacturing,” the researchers explain. “The bearing concept for the impeller consisted of two passive magnetic bearings for radial forces and a pivot tip for axial forces. For the radial magnetic bearings, hollow cylinder magnets were integrated into the impeller and housing. The impeller comprises of four blades with twisted internal blade channels in a helical shape around the inflow axis. In each of the blades, a driving magnet was embedded just above the bottom surface. The shape of the magnet was matched to the blade geometry, thereby maximizing the magnet volume. The impeller was actuated by magnetic coupling to a set of matching non-printed permanent magnets spinning on a servo motor just below the housing.

The pump was 3D printed on the first try, in a print that took about 15 hours. Arbitrarily-shaped magnets were integrated into the pump, and the magnetic filament, which the researchers called MagFil, was able to be printed from a standard spool without breaking. The hydraulic performance of the pump was then tested with water using an ultrasonic flow probe and pressure sensors at the pump inlet and outlet.

“An operation of the pump prototype at a maximum rotational speed of 1000 rpm, with a flow rate of 3 L/min against a pressure head of 6 mmHg was achieved,” the researchers state. “At higher rotational speeds, the magnetic coupling broke off and the delivered flow rate decreased concomitantly. The pump prototype could therefore not deliver a sufficient flow rate at head pressures that are realistic for clinically used RBPs.”

The researchers attributed this failure to inferior print quality caused by some difficulties with multi-material printing, but they still concluded that 3D printing is a promising method for speeding up the development process for medical devices and for creating devices with integrated magnets with geometrical complexity.

Authors of the paper include Kai von Petersdorff-Campen, Yannick Hausworth, Julia Carpenter, Andreas Hagmann, Stefan Boës, Marianne Schmid Daners, Dirk Penner and Mirko Meboldt.

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3D printed ballet shoe eases the pain of dancers

Hadar Neeman, a graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, has designed and 3D printed a pain-reducing durable ballet shoe. As part of her final university project, Neeman designed the custom 3D printed pointe ballet shoe called P-rouette. A pointe shoe is customarily worn by ballet dancers to dance en pointe. This […]

Duke University’s 3D Printing Innovation Lab Allows Surgeons to Create Accurate 3D Printed Medical Training Models

3D printers in Duke University’s Innovation Co-Lab [Image: Innovation Co-Lab Studio]

3D printing is becoming increasingly more accessible and affordable in many industries, including the medical field. We often see the technology used for the purposes of creating accurate training models and simulators, so that medical professionals can practice surgeries and procedures ahead of time – this not only saves on costs, but can also allow surgeons to offer a better level of care.

Tawfig Khoury, MD, an otolaryngology (ear and throat) resident at Duke University, is focused on the latter, and uses 3D printing to improve patient care. He makes 3D printed medical models of the ear’s delicate temporal bones, which are later used for the purposes of medical training.

“One focus of my research has been taking CT scans of temporal bones, and printing an exact, patient-specific replica. Our residents can then practice drilling and performing other tests without having to work on an actual patient,” Dr. Khoury explained.

Tawfiq Khoury, MD, Otolaryngology
Resident

Dr. Khoury works on his 3D printed models at the university’s Innovation Co-Lab Studio, which contains a network of over 80 3D printers, ranging from MakerBot and Markforged to Ultimaker and Formlabs, that have been used for various projects since the facility began to really grow last year and explore new uses for 3D printing at the university.

“With recent renovations, we now have a state-of-the-art facility, with high-end equipment across an entire floor dedicated to the lab,” Dr. Khoury said.

“The Innovation Lab is a great example of how different departments across the hospital, as well as other healthcare groups, residents, and students, can work together to create something of value for the community.”

The lab, previously described as a “creativity incubator,” also includes 3D scanning equipment, CNC machines and laser cutters, digital modeling workstations, and a multitude of electronics.

Physicians from several of the university’s medical specialties, including cardiology, neurosurgery, and neurology, use the patient record system Epic to access an ordering system in order to have medical models 3D printed in the studio from ultrasounds and CT and MRI scans. Occasionally, the Innovation Co-Lab Studio can provide its 3D printing services at no cost if the 3D printed replica models are created specifically for patient care.

One of the 80 3D printers in Duke University’s Innovation Co-Lab Studio [Image: Cara O’Malley]

In order to receive and handle requests for 3D prints from around the world, the studio uses 3DPrinterOS, the popular online cloud management system, as a service to the university’s community. 3DPrinterOS users have access to an online, live-streaming video of the project while it’s being 3D printed.

Since the facility’s expansion, a wider community of users have been taking advantage of its services. The expansion also gives Dr. Khoury the opportunity to, according to a post by Scott Behm with Duke’s Department of Surgery, “set his sights on some short- and long-term goals.”

Dr. Khoury feels that 3D printing, even though it can already create accurate models for the purposes of medical training, can go even further at the university. Before his residency at Duke is complete, he hopes to set up an efficient system in order to assist patients with facial trauma who must have maxillofacial reconstruction surgery. His main goal in this is to enable the routine creation of 3D printed models for eventual use in implants for this type of procedure.

Someday in the future, Dr. Khoury believes that we will be able to rely on 3D printers as a way to create organic replacement organs or body parts out of bioink or hydrogel, such as an eardrum, which can then be infused with live cells and implanted in a patient’s body.

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Newborns with Cleft Lip and Cleft Palates to be Helped Through 3D Printing

It’s scary to think about newborn babies undergoing surgeries and other medical procedures, but 3D printing has come into play several times to help make these successful. Now, the technology is being used again to help newborns with cleft lip and palates (CLP) in a new study conducted by the Technical University of Munich (TUM).

According to the study, nasoalveolar molding (NAM) is a “presurgical orthofacial treatment modality” for newborns afflicted with CLP. The method uses a plastic plate to reshape an infant’s gums, nostrils, and lip before undergoing the actual CLP surgery. The plate is inserted and adjusted according to the child’s alveolar development, and then a nasal stent is used to extend the plate during treatment. The technique is considered complete once the primary surgical closure of the lip is performed.

RapidNAM device in frontal (A) and dorsal (B) view.

While NAM does work, the treatment is lengthy, with many weekly adjustments; it also requires that several impressions be taken when the baby needs new plates, and the treatment modality is only offered in special centers. However, by introducing CAD/CAM technology and 3D printing into the NAM treatment, the amount of impression-taking, along with the cost of the treatment, can be decreased, and the production modality is better facilitated.

A team of researchers based at TUM recently published a paper, titled “A semi-automated virtual workflow solution for the design and production of intraoral molding plates using additive manufacturing: the first clinical results of a pilot-study,” in the Nature journal.

Graphical User Interface for the design of RapidNAM devices. (A) Automated detection of alveolar crest. (B) Selection of bridging area. (C) Gap closure. (D) Pin positioning. (E) Virtual plate.

The abstract reads, “Computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology has been implemented in the treatment of cleft lip and palates (CLP) by several research groups. This pilot study presents a technique that combines intraoral molding with a semi-automated plate generation and 3D-printing. The clinical results of two intraoral molding approaches are compared. This is the first clinical investigation of semi-automated intraoral molding. Our study included newborns with unilateral CLP. Plaster models were digitalized and measured by two independent observers. Two methods of CAD/CAM-assisted intraoral molding were compared: (i) stepwise manual design of molding plates (conventional CAD/CAM-intraoral molding) and (ii) a semi-automated approach with an automated detection of alveolar ridges (called RapidNAM) assisted by a graphical user interface (GUI). Both approaches significantly narrowed the clefts and resulted in a harmonic alveolar crest alignment. The GUI was easy to use and generated intraoral molding devices within minutes. The presented design solution is an efficient technical refinement with good clinical results. The semi-automated plate generation with a feasible GUI is fast but allows individual adaptations. This promising technique might facilitate and foster the more widespread use of CAD/CAM-technology in intraoral molding therapy.”

In their study, the researchers described their virtual workflow, and also analyzed how effective semi-automated intraoral molding plate generation, or RapidNAM, is for helping to treat CLP.

“Healthy newborns with unilateral CLP (n = 14) were included in the study,” the researchers wrote in their paper. “Two groups were formed: one group was treated with conventional CAD/CAM-intraoral molding plates as published previously with digitally designed intraoral molding plates serving as a reference group and the other group with RapidNAM-plates. In both groups, impressions were taken from the upper jaw within the first few days of life and at the end of molding therapy when primary lip closure was performed at the age of approximately 3–4 months.”

Selected landmarks.

A 3D triangulation scanner from 3Shape in Denmark was used to digitalize the casts, and after creating a graphical user interface (GUI), an algorithm automatically detected the alveolar ridge, in order to find the monthly growth rate in the anatomical study of 32 healthy newborn babies. Special 3D software was used to help with plate expansions during the manual plate molding.

The study concludes, “RapidNAM overcomes previous limitations of conventional CAD/CAM-intraoral molding plates by its semi-automated workflow. The GUI creates a series of molding plates within a few minutes but still allows changes by the user. The resulting plates are as adaptable as conventional NAM-devices. The algorithm automatically detects the edentulous alveolar ridges and may also have further dental applications. RapidNAM gives good clinical results and may bring nasoalveolar molding to a broader practice.”

Co-authors are Florian D. Grill, Lucas M. Ritschl, Franz X. Bauer, Andrea Rau with the Friedrich Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Dominik Gau, Maximilian Roth, Markus Eblenkamp, Klaus-Dietrich Wolff, and Denys J. Loeffelbein.

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BMW receives Altair Enlighten Award for metal 3D printed roof bracket

BMW Group, the German multinational automotive company, has received the 2018 Altair Enlighten Award In the Module category for its 3D printed metal convertible roof bracket. The Altair Enlighten Awards, presented at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars, in Michigan, recognizes admirable advances in lightweight technology. Said to be the first 3D printed metal component used […]

Materialise €45 million Q2 revenue driven by strong medical performance

Belgian software and 3D printing service provider Materialise NV (NASDAQ:MTLS) has reported its financial results for the second quarter of 2018. Headline revenue is reported at €45.07 million, a 34.1% increase on the same period in 2017 which was €33.6 million. The company credits strong performance in its medical segment for part of the rise. According to […]