Stratasys reports that its J750 Digital Anatomy 3D printer has been installed at healthcare institutions and medical service providers across the globe. The year-old system now operates in the United States, China, Italy, Spain and Australia. The company cites specific examples of the printer’s installation at the Seattle Children’s Hospital, the VA Health Care System, the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, Medilife and BIO3DModel in Italy, and Tknika and AIJU in Spain.
The system improves patient care because it creates realistic anatomical models of human anatomy. These models let students and surgeons practice advanced care techniques on simulated tissues. The printer reduces the use of animals and cadavers for clinical trials and surgical training.
Stratasys’ technology has a knock-on effect because it reduces testing and clinical evaluation costs. The J750 Digital Anatomy printer promises to bring new medical devices to market faster by reducing research and development costs.
Seattle Children’s Hospital purchased a J750 Digital Anatomy 3D printer early this year and installed it in its new 3D Printing Lab. A major motivation for getting the printer was the ability to create very soft models in-house to duplicate things like airways, livers, and hearts. “The earliest prints using TissueMatrix material were instrumental for understanding the optimal fit for a custom tracheostomy tube, something that would have been impossible with the best materials that we had access to only six months ago,” said Seth Friedman, Ph.D., Manager of Innovation Imaging and Simulation Modeling in the Improvement and Innovation Department. “I believe that by making models in parallel to a patient’s care journey we can truly make a difference. Now integrated into a systemic program called Custom Care, we have little doubt this new technology will help us provide the best care possible to our patients and families.”
Nicklaus Children’s Hospital upgraded to the new J750 Digital Anatomy 3D printer from an existing Eden 260 in the Cardiovascular Surgery Program. The upgrade was a collaboration between the NCHS Personalized Medicine Initiative and the Cardiovascular Surgery Advanced Research Projects Laboratory and was made possible by the support of the Bailey Foundation and donors to NCHS.
Dr. Redmond Burke, chief of Cardiovascular Surgery and co-director of the Heart Program, said it’s now a critical part of surgical planning. “It’s very valuable to be able to actually cut open a model to get a very clear vision of what we’ll see in the operating room,” he said. “We believe this is a significant advance that will allow us to reduce the trauma of patients undergoing complex heart surgery.” He said the new 3D printer also opens up completely new avenues in teaching and patient care.
In Spain, two technology institutions have invested in the Digital Anatomy 3D printer to pioneer their medical service offering. Both cite the unrivaled ultra-realism and tactile nature of the models as a significant competitive advantage.
Nacho Sandoval, Additive Manufacturing Lead at AIJU, said that: “Previously, we could not produce models replicating the organic materials frequently requested by the medical sector, let alone realistically simulating the behaviors of human tissue. What is also remarkable is that the precision of the Digital Anatomy printer offers higher resolutions than those obtained with a CT or MRI, which are usually above half a millimeter. We’re already seeing vast interest from a wide range of medical practitioners for these types of models in real-world applications.”
Gorka Baqueriza, Additive Manufacturing Project Manager, Tknika, rejoined with: “We see this technology having a significant impact in several areas of healthcare – from medical training to pre-surgery planning to patient care. The level of realism that can be achieved for such a wide range of anatomical models and pathologies is incredible.”
In Italy, President of BIO3DModel, Eng. Roberto Rizzo, said he has witnessed particular interest in the Digital Anatomy 3D printer for surgical training. “This technology enables a drastic reduction in time training surgeons, in particular the ability to investigate for any specific pathological conditions prior to the actual surgery,” he stated. “For example, until now it was not possible to produce hollow vascular systems down to 1mm wall thickness and diameter. This incredible detail could be the difference between life or death for a patient.”
Emanuele D’Angeli, General Manager, Medilife, added that: “The models produced on the Digital Anatomy 3D printer offer the same soft touch and variable density of actual human tissues and organs, which today is impossible to achieve with any other existing 3D printing technology. We are currently testing several applications, including the creation of an artificial limb. The aim is to reproduce the natural external appearance of the limb in terms of texture and color shade, while also replicating the lifelike physical feel that we experience with a human touch.”