Oct 8, 2015 | By Tess

3D printing has made undeniable headway into the field of medical prosthetics in recent years, with 3D printed titanium sternums being made, as well as prosthetic limbs, to name only a few. Developments between the two fields continue to grow, and in increasingly interesting ways. Belgian industrial designer Sebastiaan Deviaene’s work is a perfect example of the innovation bourgeoning within the realm of 3D printed medical implants, as he not only creates customized 3D printed implants, but does so using software and technology usually used for video game development.

Digital render of a 3D-printed jaw implant by Deviaene

Deviaene, who has been working with the medical engineering department at the Institute of Technology in the Canary Islands (ITC) for several years now, primarily designs custom-fit medical implants for reconstructive surgery in humans as well as animals, and has specialized in the making of additively manufactured lattice structures.

Sebastiaan Deviaene

His implants are made from a medical-grade titanium alloy, and are notable for incorporating the lattice structures where the metal of the implant meets the patient’s bone. Unlike solid implant structures, which often make bones more brittle in the long run, the lattice structure stimulates bone growth, as the two materials ultimately fuse together.

3D-printed titanium implant

Using 3ds Max to design implants

What is particularly remarkable about Deviaene’s work is that he has found a way to design his custom implants using 3D computer graphics software, 3DS Max, rather than established medical software packages, which he has found to be overly expensive and quite rigid in their formatting. He says of using 3DS Max for medical purposes, “It is funny to use it for medical applications, because it is more of an architectural visualisation tool or video game development tool. But it is a very stable platform for mesh-based modelling.”

Evidently, Deviaene has found success in his software appropriation, as he continues to create high-grade medical implants for people all over the world. Recently, for instance, Deviaene teamed up with Argentinian company Raomed to design implants to reconstruct the jaw of an Argentinian patient. Because technicians at Raomed were able to scan the patient’s jaw and cranium and send the 3D files to Deviaene, he was able to design and manufacture the implants completely remotely from his lab in the Canary Islands. Deviaene explains, “The final product was made using EBM technology, which stands for electron beam melting. We prepared it for shipping and never had to travel to Argentina to collaborate.”

3D model of a patient's skull

X-ray showing 3D printed implants in the patient after surgery

Though for the moment Deviaene is more or less restricted to making implants intended for bone reconstruction because of the metal material they are made of, him and his team at ITC are looking into developing additively manufactured implants using other materials. They are confident that one-day soon they will be able to use other, more flexible materials in order to 3D print implants for softer tissue types.

Sebastiaan Deviaene explains, “The exciting thing is we’re currently quite restricted to bone reconstruction. But in the future, we’ll be moving into new tissues using various different bio-absorbable materials. So it is actually just the beginning.”

Deviaene’s work has been recently recognized by the Future Makers project, a collaboration between architecture and design magazine Dezeen and Autodesk which is aimed at exploring innovative minds and figures in the making of things.

For an in depth look at how Deviaene creates his implants see the video below:



Posted in 3D Design





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MrWawe wrote at 10/9/2015 7:34:16 AM:

We used Rhino3D - it was free.

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