Jan 31, 2017 | By Tess

Dubai is certainly making a strong effort to not only integrate 3D printing technologies into many facets of its economy and society, but to do so in a timely manner too. Last October, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) announced that as soon as 2017, 3D printing would be adopted by hospitals and dental clinics throughout the city, and sure enough, the DHA has now reported that it is ready to launch additive manufacturing at 11 DHA-operated health centers within a matter of weeks.

The announcement was made at the Arab Health Congress 2017, which opened on January 30 and goes on until February 2. According to the DHA, its Dental Services department will be the first to roll out the new technologies, as it begins using 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies to make more time-efficient and less invasive impressions of a patient’s teeth.

That is, rather that make the patient sit uncomfortably while a physical mold is taken of their mouth, Dubai dentists will soon be able to use simple intra-oral scanners, which can be moved around the patient’s mouth to capture a digital impression. From there, the digital scan is transformed into a 3D printable model (through a DHA intranet) and sent directly to a 3D printer.

As Dr. Hamda Mesmar, the director of the Dental Services Department at the DHA, explains: “The 3D image helps us with accurate planning and precision especially for complicated dental procedures and surgeries. Patients will greatly benefit from the use of this technology as it helps in better patient outcomes as well as substantially reduces waiting time and cost of care.”

Within weeks, a number of dental clinics operating in the Primary Health Care Centers will receive and begin using the new and innovative intra-oral scanners. The new devices are expected to reduce processing, production, and overall waiting times significantly. Traditionally, it can take several hours to make a patient-specific dental mold using impressions and stone molds. With 3D printers in tow, dental clinics could feasibly produce 18 resin molds within just 6 hours.

In addition to the time advantage, the DHA has also reported that using the intra-oral scanners and 3D printing method could result in more accurate impressions and pose less of a risk in terms of infections. Additionally, because the digital image of the patient’s mouth is stored, 3D models can be re-inspected and re-printed with ease.

It's not only the dental sector that will be benefitting from 3D printing technologies, however, as Dubai is also planning to introduce a new lightweight 3D printed prosthetic leg to its hospitals. Manufactured in Germany, the 3D printed prosthetic leg can be made within a day, and is substantially more affordable than traditional prosthetics. While the first of Dubai’s 3D printed implants might be imported, the DHA is hopeful it will start producing its own advanced prosthetics within the next decade.

Humaid Al Qatami, Director general of the DHA, commented: “Using 3D technology for surgeries and other medical purposes is the future. We are currently working on developing regulations for 3D printing for patients and the medical sector in Dubai. We are also looking at training doctors and health care professionals on the use of this technology.”

Check out more of Dubai’s 3D printing efforts:

 

 

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