Feb.21, 2012

Two weeks ago the news "83-year-old woman got 3D printed mandible" got worldwide media attention. Belgian and Dutch scientists have successfully replacing a lower jaw with a 3D printed model for a 83 year-old woman.

The whole process was led by Research Institute BIOMED at Hasselt University, in collaboration with surgeons from the Netherlands, including the Orbis Centre in Sittard-Geleen, Xilloc Medical BV, Maastricht and Cam bioceramics BV in Leiden.

Since then, Maikel Beerens (27), founder of Xilloc, run from one interview to another. Beerens described: "Monday morning I had two interviews, a photo shoot and a speech for young entrepreneurs. At nine o'clock in the evening I came home and had to answer dozens of e-mails. "

Xilloc Medical B.V. from Maastricht in the Netherlands, is a company manufactures implants that are custom designed for each individual patient using 3D printing technology. In August 2010 Beerens founded Xilloc Medical B.V as spin-off company from Maastricht Instruments. The total investment is around €380,000 and Beerens holds 10% shares. Since its establishment this start-up has won four entrepreneurs prizes in six weeks time. In December, after winning the last prize, the board said, "that was enough, no more prizes for a while."

Now, Beerens and Xilloc again got media attention. It is a world first and the most complex surgery Xilloc involved so far. Since then, Beerens got a lot of reactions from all sides. An American surgeon has contacted Beerens last week asking if Xilloc can make an implant for one of his patients. A large international company has called and asked for a talk. This company, according to Beerens, is in "Top 3 implants manufacturers" worldwide. They said, "perhaps you can use our distribution network to sell your 3D printed jaw."

Worldwide there are about 20 companies making implants. But for these companies the market for individual patient is too small. In the Netherlands, for example, the demand for custom cranial implants is no more than 40 person per year. Xilloc has made 5 last year with the price €7,000 to €12,000 per piece.

But 3D printed implants are not reimbursed by insurance. Beerens made a presentation to two insurers explaining the benefits of 3D printed implants. We don't know yet if they are persuaded or not. According to Beerens, it's because of the cost. "But implants are cheaper than they appear."says Xilloc-founder. Such an operation takes 45 minutes while traditional technology takes several hours. Additionally, it doesn't require any reconstructive surgery. However the Dutch market is far too small for Xilloc to grow bigger. Therefore the help from the multinational company just called is welcome. "That will be a big boost for us." said Beerens.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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