Nov 2, 2016 | By Tess

A collaborative effort between the Morriston Hospital in Wales, the Cardfiff Metropolitan University, and UK-based 3D printing companies Renishaw and LPW Technology Ltd. has succeeded in facilitating the creation of patient-specific 3D printed maxillofacial implants. The project marks a significant step forwards for advanced 3D printing-based medical treatments within Wales.

3D printed maxillofacial implant

The joint project, called Additive-manufacture for Design-led Efficient Patient Treatment, or ADEPT, will make it significantly easier for patients with serious head and facial injuries in the UK to get bespoke treatments. Essentially, the project consists of a new software system which allows surgeons to design custom-fitted maxillofacial implants in a timely manner, and have them additively manufactured almost instantaneously at the press of a button. The 3D printed facial implants, in keeping with medical standards, will be 3D printed out of titanium.

ADEPT differs slightly from other 3D printed bespoke implant processes as it is really focused on making the process as simple as possible. Whereas surgeons would have previously had to either mold or bend off-the-shelf implants to about the right shape, or to design an implant from the patient’s CT scan and subsequently send it off to be 3D printed (requiring two very expensive equipment systems), ADEPT has streamlined the process into a single, much-lower cost, solution.

Peter Llewelyn Evans, the maxillofacial laboratory services manager at the Morriston Hospital, explained: “The software will enable maxillofacial surgeons and technicians to design a cranioplasty—where people have part of the skull missing and you want to repair that with a metal plate…Surgeons anywhere in the UK, and indeed the world, will have the facility to design a custom implant that is far more likely to give better results because it fits the patient’s original anatomy.”

Peter Llewelyn Evans holding 3D printed implant for a fractured eye-socket

The innovative ADEPT software is currently being tested and trialled within the UK, and if all goes well it should be available for general release sometime in the near future. In September, the implant manufacturing system was recognized for its high potential at The Engineer magazine’s Collaborate to Innovate Awards, where it took home top prize in the category of Health and Wellbeing. Later this month on November 17th, the joint team behind ADEPT will also be present at the Collaborate to Innovate Conference in Coventry to showcase their work.

While the technology is still in its testing stages, ADEPT certainly marks a significant step forwards for the simplification and automation of bespoke 3D printed implant manufacturing, which could in turn help to make custom maxillofacial implants much more accessible to patients around the globe.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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