New Zealand: myReflection 3D Prints Lightweight, Affordable Prosthetic Breasts for Post-Mastectomy Patients

3D printing has brought the potential for massive change in medicine—relating to so many different aspects, from bioprinting to making surgical guides and many different devices. The area of prosthetics has already been impacted in an extremely positive way, for patients of all ages around the world. Now, women who have undergone mastectomies in New Zealand can look forward to customized prostheses that offer amazing improvement on previous options.

Created by myReflection, these implants can be made as copies of women’s breasts before surgery. Photographs or scans are used to create the images which are then converted into a 3D design and later a 3D print. Fay Cobett of myReflection points out that these 3D printed devices can be credited for improving the quality of life for women who had breast cancer, underwent mastectomies, and want to ‘feel whole’ again.

“We’re all different – scars, lumps, bumps. We need to capture all those details,” explains Cobett.

As a cancer survivor herself, Cobett has firsthand knowledge of what it is like to struggle not only with the disease of breast cancer, but also the frustration of generic implants during the attempt to regain normalcy later. Her partner, Tim Carr (director of myReflection) wanted to create something that would mold to her body rather than cause intense discomfort. Carr began collaborating with 3D print expert Jason Barnett, and myReflection was born.

Jason Barnett – 3D printing expert and chief R&D Engineer for myReflection (Photo credit: myReflection)

The patient-specific prosthetic is so lightweight and versatile that it can be worn with any bra, and due to the affordability associated with 3D printing (along with speed and efficiency in production), replacements are inexpensive.

“This is absolutely a world-first for New Zealand,” says Carr. “I watched [wife] Fay after she lost her breast [and] deal with the generic prosthesis. They don’t stay in place and they were heavy and they were expensive.”

Carr points out that due to the unique quality of the prosthetics, they could charge exponentially more for such a product. Their goal, however, is to make the myReflection prosthetics affordable and accessible. Carr also explains further on the company website that their goal was not to create an ‘elitist product,’ but rather one that women could enjoy easily; in fact, women living in New Zealand who have undergone mastectomies have prosthesis and bra costs covered with four yearly subsidies.

(Photo credit: myReflection)

“It has been such a personal journey for us.” said Carr on the myReflection website. ‘We are really excited to be able to share this product with other women who are going through or have been through what we have. If we can improve the quality of life of women who have been through the hell of breast cancer and help to restore their self-image, then it is all worth it.”

Find out more about the myReflection products and the story of their inspiring work here.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source / Images: 1NewsNow]

BioPrinting with Alzheimer’s Stem Cells May Lead to Improved Drug Testing & Treatment

Alzheimer’s studies give many of us hope, whether we have a relative or friend suffering from the dreaded disease—or simply because we are hoping that a cure will be there if we begin to experience symptoms of the most common and crushing form of dementia. As bioprinting becomes valuable in so many different areas of medical research, it is no surprise to hear that now scientists are turning their attention toward using it to find better ways for treating Alzheimer’s.

3D printing, and the realm within known as bioprinting, allows for scientists to embrace so many benefits, from affordability and expediency, to the ability to keep trying varying iterations until they complete their mission in research or innovation. One of the greatest challenges in dealing with Alzheimer’s has been finding medication that really works. Not only is there pressure to find it for those who have the existing condition, but also for future generations carrying what is thought to be a genetic marker. In ‘Bioprinting neural tissues using stem cells as a tool for screening drug targets for Alzheimer’s disease,’ Stephanie M. Willerth examines the difficulty in both finding, testing, and approving drugs for this trying disease that tends to affect seniors regarding cognition, memory, and language and reasoning.

“The pathology of Alzheimer’s disease includes the presence of plaques containing aggregates of amyloid beta (αβ) proteins and tangles containing neurofibrillary tangles,” states Willerth in her paper. “Certain genetic mutations increase the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s disease.”

“These mutations consist of an altered APP gene responsible for encoding amyloid precursor protein, along with the PSEN1 and PSEN2 mutations cause decreased activity by the γ-secretase complex. These mutations result in improper processing of the αβ proteins. Currently, approved treatments for Alzheimer’s disease include four different types of cholinesterase inhibitors and the drug memantine – a N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antagonist that targets glutaminergic neurons to preserve their function.”

Willerth goes on to detail the facts about Memantine, as the only drug approved for Alzheimer’s patients. It has been in use since 2000, and currently there are over 200 other compounds being tested. Memantine is known to be controversial though and Willerth points out that the current drug targets present issues in terms of both successful use in patients, and toxicity, posing a need for improvement before clinical trials commence.

Better testing before trials would diminish costs in drug development, along with decreasing the amount of time it currently takes to create treatments that are successful.

“Current methods for evaluating target compounds consist of animal models of disease and the use of cadaveric human tissues,” states Willerth. “In addition to their lack of predictive capacity, animal models are costly, and the supplies of human neural tissues remain limited. Developing more effective assays for preclinical identification of drug targets will lower the expense of the drug discovery process and increase the likelihood of successful outcomes at the stage of clinical trials.”

The use of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) is certainly not a novel idea today, having been in use since 2007; however, now, scientists may be able to use such technology regarding Alzheimer’s, reprogramming cells from patients into hiPSCs. While this could offer better tools for studying the disease, and screening drug targets, it could also further studies regarding progression of the disease in patients. Along with that—and this is where bioprinting and 3D printing so often come in—greater patient-specific care should be available too.

“The use of hiPSC lines containing the different genetic mutations associated with Alzheimer’s disease also enables the use of personalized medicine for treating different subsets of the disease. While cells are often cultured on 2D substrates in vitro, these conditions do not accurately mimic the microenvironment present in the CNS,” states Willerth, who goes on to mention research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where scientists have created stem cells that are able to successfully predict toxicity levels in different compounds.

With alternative methods like 3D bioprinting, tissue engineering is possible but there may still be challenges in controlling viability and ‘behavior’ of cells.

“Recent advances in bioprinting have enabled the printing of hiPSCs using microfluidic extrusion, opening the possibility for applying this technology for high-throughput production of hiPSC-derived neural tissues,” state the researchers. “Recent developments in 3D bioprinting technologies make printing physiologically relevant neural tissues derived from hiPSCs a real possibility.”

Both 3D printing and bioprinting offer untapped potential, along with technology using suspended hydrogels to make complex structures.

“My group has successfully developed microspheres for delivery of two small molecule morphogens – guggulsterone and purmorphamine,” states Willerth. “Our data have shown that such microspheres are powerful tools for promoting the differentiation of hiPSCs into neural tissues and being able to place different combinations and concentrations of microspheres into precise locations using 3D printing would enable production of tissues like that found in the brain and spinal cord. These 3D printed neural tissues could then be used for screening potential drug targets for Alzheimer’s disease as an alternative to expensive preclinical animal testing.”

As work progresses in the future, Willerth’s paper details issues that must be resolved, such as the means for more stable vasculature to bioprint arrays for drug testing.

“Such work could also contribute to development of engineered tissues that could be transplanted for regenerating damaged regions of the central nervous system. Overall, 3D bioprinting hiPSC-derived neural tissues hold significant potential as a novel way to generate new tools for screening drug targets for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease,” concludes Willerth.

This project is funded by the Canada Research Chairs program, the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council, and the British Columbia Innovation Council’s Ignite Program. SM Willerth also has a commercialization agreement with Aspect Biosystems with regards to 3D printing neural tissues and a provisional patent on a bioink.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

Photo credit: UVic Photo Services

3D printing news Sliced: CERN, HP Foundation, APWORKS, Phrozen, Etch-a-Sketch

Today in Sliced – what to 3D print for Christmas; UK hospitals call for more 3D printing in healthcare; a bioprinter is launched into space; and all the latest business deals from APWORKS, Sigma Labs, XJet, Sculpteo and more. Sigma Labs partners with Fraunhofer, CERN integrates AM automation 3D printing quality assurance software provider Sigma […]

Novameat develops 3D-printed vegan steak from plant-based proteins

3d printed steak design technology dezeen 2364 col 1 1704x1278

Via DeZeen:

Italian bioengineer Giuseppe Scionti from Spanish startup Novameat has invented the “world’s first” 3D-printed meat-free steak made from vegetable proteins, which mimics the texture of beef.

By combining tissue engineering and bio-printing with modern cooking methods, he created a vegan product that boasts the same consistency, appearance and nutritional properties as animal meat products.

3D printing allowed the scientist to generate complex, micro-structured tridimensional forms that he says are impossible to achieve using other techniques.

Read more!

Interview with 3D Print Pioneer Kevin McAlea EVP Healthcare and Metals 3D Systems on Industrializing 3D Printing

There are not a lot of people out there with over 25 years of experience in 3D Printing. One of those people is Kevin McAlea. He is currently an EVP at 3D Systems and in charge of the company’s Healthcare and Metal Printing Business Units. In Healthcare 3D Systems is deploying 3D printing and 3D scanning into various medical markets from medical models to patient-specific implants and surgical planning. The company has software for doctors and hospitals, can also sell 3D printing as a service or can sell machines. In metal printing 3D Systems’ sells specialized metal printers for dental as well as larger production systems for industry such as its DMP Flex 350 and DMP Factory 500 systems. Previously Kevin worked as VP for Europe, VP Marketing, SVP for Production Printers at 3D Systems. Before this Kevin was the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at venerable laser sintering company DTM which was acquired by 3D Systems. Kevin started at DTM in 3D printing in 1993. Not only are there few people with this much experience there are very few people that have fullfilled so many different operational roles in 3D printing businesses and barely any people that additionally have as deep an experience with polymer sintering, metal sintering, inkjet and stereolithography. It’s a real treat to be able to interview a true pioneer and veteran such as Kevin.

What have you learned in your 25 years in 3D printing?

Over the course of my career in 3D printing, what I find most interesting has always been the potential applications. In the early years of 3D printing, it was about prototyping. But the realization has existed for quite some time that at some point manufacturers would be able to migrate from prototyping to production. The transformative potential of the technology enables compelling use cases and applications. The industry has gone through several hype cycles, but if you’ve been in industry long enough, you’ve seen steady growth in use for production manufacturing such as for hearing aids and dental aligners. Manufacturing with additive is real today, and will drive this industry beyond what we’ve seen in last 25-30 years – that’s what makes this so exciting.

What have been some of the biggest changes?

For more than 15 years, 3D printing was largely a hidden cottage industry – no one knew anything about it. Today, everyone has heard of it, but with this broad awareness, there have also been some misconceptions about how it can be used and its maturity. In the last 10 years, we’ve seen quite a shift. When 3D printing began, it was initially an industry with a small number of players and limited investment. Today, we’re seeing lots of investment money coming in to the industry. Along with additional money, we’re seeing a lot of new players and technologies. While these will not all prove to be long-term winners, it creates churn in the market – pushing all the technology providers to grow and push the boundaries of what is possible. And this is what helps drive growth and innovation.

What has it been like working in this industry?

In a macro sense, it’s been something of a roller coaster ride. In the history of 3D printing, some have seen its potential as poised for huge success but then they’ve written it off. It’s very cyclical. If you’re fortunate enough to be on the inside of this industry, what makes it so compelling is all the new applications being developed and taking off. Not many people in their careers get the opportunity to work on transformational applications.

Where is our industry now?

With the sheer amount of investment going into the industry right now, new technologies are being developed and existing technologies are expanding. We’re seeing manufacturers implementing new applications and setting up factories. And many large companies are embarking on research and exploration to determine how they can integrate 3D printing into their business. Over the next decade, there will be a big sorting out that will take place as many of these pieces fall into place.

What are some things that need to change?

While the industry has made tremendous strides over the past 30 years, the technology is still relatively immature. And we also see many manufacturers out there that still don’t fully understand where to apply 3D printing, where it makes sense, what parts can benefit from 3D printing and the resulting cost benefit, as well as truly embracing the capital required to set up their factory. There is still quite a bit to be done in terms of educating the market, and providing partnership and counsel to help manufacturers.

What are some of the biggest challenges?

In addition to what I just mentioned, we need to take stock of what is available in the industry with regard to technology, materials and how they can be applied to parts selection and cost. We also need a broader portfolio of materials to expand the range of applications which can be addressed through enhanced speed and parts cost reduction.

A 3D Systems DMP Factory 500 Metal 3D Printing System

What have been some key developments in metal printing?

The fact that we can produce 3D printed parts with excellent properties from traditional metal alloys has been major part of the success story for metal 3D printing. This allows us to create 3D printed parts for aerospace and medical with limited risk that are better or as good as conventionally manufactured parts.

We’ve also seen Increases in print speed which is driving down parts cost, and the ability to make parts in larger sizes that customers like aerospace require.

I believe the third key development to be the ability to certify and validate parts and printers in regulated industries. This is a major breakthrough allowing us to enter advanced manufacturing segments and be successful.

How do you see the future of Direct Metal Printing?

To date, we’ve seen on-going, increased adoption in advanced manufacturing segments such as aerospace, power generation, and medical devices. This is all still in the early stages, but we’ve seen enough demonstrated success that it will drive advancements in next 5-10 years. I believe the technology will also continue to improve – for example, process control, QA, several-fold increase in speed, and the holes in materials portfolio will close – driving increased adoption.

A DMP Factory 350

What have been some of the key advancements in healthcare?

Healthcare like aerospace is a heavily regulated industry. To be successful, a technology partner must demonstrate they can print a part and meet all the requirements for its use in a very rigorous way. It’s also imperative to demonstrate you can install and validate this (3D printing) equipment for a medical environment. The FDA is very transparent in how they operate and their regulatory requirements. Multiple OEMS and service providers have been able to show they can validate use of the printers to make these parts to meet regulatory approval coupled with quality work in factory environment. Huge breakthroughs have been made in this area which have resulted from lots of work by lots of people. You can talk ad nauseam about parts that could be designed by 3D printing, but without validation and approval, there’s no forward movement.

How difficult is it to manufacture medical devices with 3D printing?

It depends. This is a tough question to answer. It’s important for the manufacturer to understand how to apply 3D printing and what parts to select to print. Right now, this is still very much in its infancy. People are still sorting out the range of potential medical devices (i.e., implants and instrumentation) that make good sense for 3D printing. Before production can even take place, a manufacturer must ensure they can operate correctly in a factory environment and validate the printers for production. Many medical device companies can validate traditional factory equipment, but 3D printers are a whole different animal. Today, this is still not a common practice, nor well-understood.

What advice would you give a company interested in manufacturing medical devices?

If a company wants to manufacture medical devices they need to find the right partner with the know-how to set up and validate these environments. And currently, the know-how exists in pockets. 3D Systems has it with experience in our facilities in Denver, CO and Leuven, Belgium,, and the expertise of application teams that understand how to optimize processes, and validate those processes in-house. When a manufacturer works with the right partner, it reduces the time it takes to get from “want to do this” to actually executing.

· Do you see printing medical devices as something that will be done in-house, by specialized manufacturers, by services?

There are two primary routes for medical device manufacturing. Of course, there is in-house production and all large medical device companies will do some amount of in-house manufacturing. However, even for these large manufacturers, there will still be certain classes or types of parts they choose to outsource. Mid-size manufacturers, on the other hand, will primarily outsource the production based on the segment they’re addressing and how large a percentage of their business it is.

The supply chain will be comprised of large OEMs producing some of the parts complemented by traditional contract manufacturers who already supply these device manufacturers who are considering 3D printing as a new option to deliver those parts. Again, the important piece to keep in mind is selecting a well-trusted vendor partner that has the experience, certifications, and post-processing capabilities required. 3D Systems has an objective to enable this. We’re setting up a certified partner network and acting as the trusted vendor.

In metal printing for dental, what are some interesting recent developments?

There is an on-going good opportunity in dental for direct production of crowns & bridges as well as implants. And, specifically for implants, there are some opportunities for hybrid manufacturing – that is, blending additive manufacturing with traditional manufacturing. There is also a small but interesting opportunity to produce crowns from precious metals.

A 3D printed exhaust made on 3D Systems Equipment is on the right while the conventionally made exhaust on the left would have a much higher part count. 

What is needed to truly industrialize metal printing?

First and foremost, we need strong tools for process control and QA. In situ QA tools are pretty essential to fully industrializing a technology. With these tools we are able to reliably predict the output – or final part – based on inputs. Tools for both are in the early stages right now, but we currently have more and more tools to understand what’s going on in-process. These tools help us learn something about the quality of parts produced prior to inspecting them.

To industrialize metal printing, we also need a closer integration of additive and subtractive manufacturing. In almost all cases we don’t simply take 3D printed parts out of the machine and use them as-is. Typically, there is fairly significant post-processing involving multiple steps to get to the final part including machining and wire EDM. Today, that transition is fairly awkward and not very smooth.

It will also be imperative for manufacturers to have a deeper understanding of parts selection and cost prediction. What parts make the most sense to 3D print? How can we predict the cost to produce them? And then how do we select the right projects to start and ensure a profitable outcome?

In medical printing I see a lot of consumers thinking that they’ll get a heart printed a few years from now. Meanwhile, on the research side, people tell me that it will take 20 years for us to print complex organs. What’s your view?

I believe it’s important to separate the potential proof of concepts and all the fascinating work currently ongoing from all the steps needed to actually put this inside a person. As discussed previously, healthcare is a highly regulated industry. So while there are lots of interesting demonstrations of what’s possible, there is a pretty significant gap to actually going through regulatory steps to get these into a person.

You’ve worked in inkjet for a long time. Binder jetting metal is all the rage. Is this something for 3D Systems to consider?

We track all new technologies, including non-laser powder bed processes. There could be opportunities for two-stage processes, where a green part is created in a printer and then solidified in a high-temperature furnace. This might be suitable for parts that would normally made by MIM (Metal Injection Molding). With no tooling required and the ability to use lower-cost powders, there might be some very interesting opportunities for this approach. However, I have some doubts as to whether the properties are sufficient to target the applications we address today.

What advice would you give firms that wish to industrialize 3D printing for manufacturing?

In my years in the industry, I’ve seen many companies attempt to truly industrialize additive. The ones who are the most successful are the manufacturers that partner with a company that has the expertise and experience to guide them to successful implementation. The biggest obstacle we see is companies that don’t understand the technology well enough to select the right parts to 3D print. If the wrong part is selected for the process, you run the risk of tainting everyone’s view of 3D printing. The right partner can help not only select the right part, but then help design it in a way that is appropriate for AM. Additionally, and perhaps even more fundamentally, is putting together a business plan and developing the case for how AM can positively impact overall operations.

Gingerbread Merry-Go-Round with #CircuitPlaygroundExpress and #Cricket

Thanks to Josephine and Elizabeth for sending us this tip and incredible project – fantastic work! Elizabeth writes:

My ten year old daughter just made a gingerbread merry-go-round using CPX and Crickit, This was her first project using circuit python. She has done many projects with CPX and makecode.

The project also involves 3D printing and using the band saw.

Check out the video on YouTube

3D Printing News Briefs: December 8, 2018

We’re starting with a little bit of business news in today’s 3D Printing News Briefs, before moving on to a new material and a software update. PostProcess is partnering with CUBRC, and both Launcher and 3YOURMIND have announced new executives. ElogioAM released its new Facilian HT material, and Simplify3D has a software update.

PostProcess Technologies Partnering with CUBRC

This week, PostProcess Technologies, which provides automated and intelligent post-processing solutions for 3D printed parts, announced that it was partnering with CUBRC in order to accelerate its patent-pending 3D printing software platforms. PostProcess will leverage CUBRC’s Heartwood Analytics machine learning suite in order to advance its work in fully digitizing 3D printing. Its AUTOMAT3D and CONNECT3D platforms both use a data science approach to 3D printing, which helps improve performance while also reducing the amount of guesswork and manual steps customers have to deal with during support removal and surface finishing. By using Heartwood Analytics, these platforms will be even more efficient.

“PostProcess was founded on software as the first component of our solution. We’ve known since the beginning that data analytics was an essential part of doing data science at scale,” said Daniel Hutchinson, the Founder and CTO of PostProcess Technologies. “That’s why we’ve chosen CUBRC for its experience and expertise in data extraction, alignment, analysis and systems optimization technologies to enhance and expedite our post-printing software platforms.”

Launcher Hires Chief Designer

Launcher, a startup making 3D printed rocket engines to help deliver small satellites to orbit, has hired Igor Nikishchenko as its Chief Designer. Nikishchenko has over three decades of experience with high-performance liquid rocket engine development, and was most recently working in Italy for Avio, which is an important contractor for the Ariane and Vega launchers developed by the European Space Agency. He will work at Launcher’s main office in New York City, and will help the startup achieve its first goal of developing the least expensive, highest performing liquid rocket engine for small launch vehicles: the 3D printed Launcher E-2, which features 22,000-lbf thrust and a closed cycle liquid rocket engine.

“We’re not doing science here, not trying to make a breakthrough. We’re trying to use a proven high-performance engine design, applied to a smaller size,” said Max Haot, the Founder and CEO of Launcher.

According to Haot, Nikishchenko will have a role similar to that of a chief engineer or chief technology officer, and will be responsible for all of the startup’s engineering and design efforts.

3YOURMIND Names Head of Global Marketing

Stefan Ritt and Aleksander Ciszek sign employment contract at formnext 2018

Software company 3YOURMIND announced that it has recruited additive manufacturing veteran Stefan Ritt to join the company as its new Head of Global Marketing, in order to continue serving its expanding international customer base. Ritt has spent over 20 years working in the AM industry on a global scale, most recently as the VP of Global Marketing and Communications for SLM Solutions, and has served as the Chairman of the Additive Manufacturing in Aerospace work group at the German Institute for Standardization (DIN) since 2015. Throughout 2019, 3YOURMIND plans to increase its presence in both Europe and the US by adding more AM production and machine manufacturing experts to the software development team, and Ritt will be integral to the company’s mission of integrating 3D printing into series manufacturing.

“I am very pleased with the trust that Aleksander Ciszek, Stephan Kuehr and their team have placed in me,” said Ritt. “I am convinced that adding the integration of AM machines within 3YOURMIND’s comprehensive software will be the solution the AM industry needs to make the step from individual prototyping to advanced industrialization and reliable serial-batch production.”

ElogioAM Introducing Facilan HT Material

This summer, high-performance 3D printing filament producer 3D4Makers and specialty chemicals company Perstorp AB signed a joint venture agreement, which resulted in the new 3D printing materials company ElogioAM B.V. Now, the company is continuing to develop new filament solutions, like Facilan C8, for 3D printing, and this week introduced its latest addition: Facilan HT. The copolyster material was designed, like all Facilan products, to be easily 3D printed with minimum warping on most conventional FDM 3D printers, which require stronger, more durable materials. It’s fully amorphous, with high temperature resistance and high stiffness, which makes it possible to optimize designs for faster rigid part print jobs.

Matthew Forrester, the 3D Printing Tech leader for L`Oréal, said, “Excellent technical support from the Elogio team, Facilan HT is as easy to print as PLA, with a good level of translucidity, perfect for our prototyping needs.”

Facilan HT is now available for pre-order in 1.75 mm diameter, 750 gram spools for €37.50.

Simplify3D Announces Software Update

Just one month ago, Simplify3D, which is one of the most popular brands of professional 3D slicing software, launched Version 4.1 of its software suite. Now, the company has come out with Version 4.1.1 of the software.

This latest release comes with many improved features, in addition to multiple bug fixes for issues like disabled force retraction between layers. For example, the corkscrew printing (vase mode) has improved seam locations, and users can transition this mode to create smooth spiraling outlines without adding any additional artifacts. The skirt and brim placement has been updated to remain closer to the outline of the model for better adhesion, and the solid layer placement has been improved in order to create high-quality top solid layers.

Discuss these stories and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below. 

MSF Hospital in Jordan Continues to Help Wounded Victims of War with 3D Printed Prosthetics

Ahmad is the first patient to receive an above-elbow 3D printed prosthetic from MSF. Technicians added an extra piece to substitute the humerus in the prosthetic, and Ahmad will be able to both bend and stretch the arm.

For over ten years now, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), known in English as Doctors Without Borders, has been operating a reconstructive surgery hospital in Amman, Jordan. Patients from many Middle Eastern countries who are victims of bomb blasts, shrapnel, bullets, and other war-related wounds are healed there.

But the MSF-run hospital also offers upper limb amputees something in addition to emergency medical care – 3D printed prosthetics.

Moreau scans the amputated hand of Ibrahim, a patient from Iraq. The scanned image appears in real-time on his computer and will provide accurate measurements for his tailor-made prosthetics.

Pierre Moreau, the clinical coordinator for MSF’s 3D printed prosthetic project in Jordan, said, “The MSF Foundation launched the 3D project in Amman in February last year, and we started to see the first patients two months later.

“So far, we have delivered 16 printed prosthetics. But our role doesn’t stop here. We support patients through a string of occupational therapy sessions to show what they can do with them.”

The project began as a study and is still technically in its experimental phase. Patients come to the hospital from places where it’s hard to get proper treatment, and too expensive for subsequent therapy, like Gaza, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, and MSF uses 3D scanning and printing to help them regain partial functionality. In turn, patient feedback helps the organization improve the quality of the 3D printed prosthetics.

34-year-old Ibrahim suffered injuries to his head, hand, and leg from a car explosion, and has had a total of six surgeries. While his hand was only initially broken, improper treatment caused it to rot, and doctors soon amputated it; Ibrahim has been dealing with the resulting pain for over two years.

Ibrahim’s 3D scans

At MSF’s Jordanian hospital, Ibrahim’s hands were scanned, and a mirrored picture will “be matched with the scan of the injured part” to make a more accurate prosthetic. Before his injury, Ibrahim was a driver, and his 3D printed prosthetic will allow him to return to work.

MSF is also 3D printing transparent masks for patients with facial burns, which are used to apply pressure on the affected surface to keep skin soft and flat after graft surgeries to help the face heal with less scarring. 7-year-old Nour Saleh suffered head injuries in 2014 when a small device exploded near the family home, and eventually underwent a skin graft procedure in Baghdad.

The family didn’t have enough money to cover all of her medical costs, and MSF accepted the case two years ago. Thanks to four surgeries at the Jordanian hospital, Nour was able to grow her hair back, which really helped with her self esteem.


Traditionally manufactured below-elbow prosthetics can cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000. But for a 3D printed prosthesis, factoring in the material, production time, case estimation, and assessment of the patient’s needs, the overall costs are much lower.

“The idea is to be able to produce 3D-printed prosthetics in the future in places difficult to access and lacking a sound healthcare system, like in conflict areas,” explained Moreau. “But the way to do it is still under discussion, as it is not always easy to find technicians available in these areas, and printers are still expensive.”

Samar Ismail

Prices are expected to keep going down as people in the industry work to develop cheaper 3D printers and innovative materials. Speaking of materials, MSF 3D Project Supervisor Samar Ismail takes care of the post-processing work for the 3D printed prosthetics, which includes painting them a color that matches the patients’ complexions and adding a varnish safety layer so food can be safely handled.

44-year-old Abu Mohammad was working in a field when a bomb was dropped, which affected both his hands and legs.

“It was impossible to escape the accident,” he explained. “Warplanes arrive suddenly and when you notice their presence, it is because you are on the ground groaning in pain.”

He uses a walker to move, and, as he has a nerve injury and multiple amputated fingers, received an active-system prosthetic, which will allow him to open and close his hand and activate the prosthetic thumb by moving his shoulder. This will help Mohammad complete tasks like combing his hair or holding a phone.

23-year-old Abdulkareem was also injured by a bomb dropped from an airplane. At the local hospital where he sought treatment, he received an uncomfortable prosthesis made with traditional methods that he rarely used. 17-year-old war victim Ahmad Meqdad was injured outside when a plane dropped a barrel bomb near his home seven years ago, and was taken to the hospital with his arm barely hanging on; his hand was soon amputated, and his mother says that he “refuses to talk about the accident.”

MSF has used 3D printing to help all of these patients, and will hopefully continue to do its good work for as long as it’s necessary.

Note: Some of the patient’s names were changed on request.

Discuss this story and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Source: Al Jazeera / Images: Elisa Oddone]