Patient-specific care goes additive.
3D Print Bureau of Texas, a service bureau in Houston, partners with several area hospitals to create patient-specific medical models for pre-operative planning and testing. The service bureau previously produced the anatomical medical models using stereolithography, but the models were limited to a single hardness and color. By moving to PolyJet technology, 3D Print Bureau of Texas can 3D print outer layers of heart models in a clear material and arteries in color for much greater clarity. The service bureau also prints materials of different hardnesses for a realistic feel that is suitable for physical testing.
“We realized the potential benefits of the Connex3 [3D printer] right away and medical customers love the results,” said Chad Devine, operations for 3D Print Bureau of Texas. The only limiting factor was the time needed — around eight hours for complex anatomical models — to manually remove support material from internal cavities. But that number has been greatly reduced after 3D Print Bureau of Texas adopted SUP706 soluble support material. Now technicians use a pressure washer to remove the bulk of the support material, then submerge the part in an alkaline solution to dissolve the rest away. Technicians’ hands-on time is now just two hours.
“The new SUP706 support material is a game-changer for making medical models,” said Devine. “It drastically reduces the time required to remove support from complex geometries and internal passageways.”
Complexity made simple.
“Without the 3D printed models, we wouldn’t have been able to come up with a way to do the procedure in advance,” said C. Huie Lin, M.D., an adult congenital and interventional cardiologist. With a 3D printed model of the patient’s heart, Lin devised a plan that required very little blood loss, which resulted in a successful operation for the little girl.