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  • embodi3d

    Selling Your Medical Model Files on Embodi3D.com

    By embodi3d

    Dear Community Members,
    After many months of work, we are happy to announce the addition of a feature that will allow you to sell medical models you have designed on Embodi3D.com. While we always have encouraged our members to consider allowing their medical STL files to be downloaded for free, we understand that when a ton of time is invested in creating a valuable and high-quality model, it is reasonable to ask for something in return. Now Embodi3D members have two options: 1) You can share your medical models for free, or 2) you can charge for them. We hope these two options encourage more sharing and file uploads. The more models available, the more it helps the medical 3D printing community.   For more details on how to sell your medical masterpieces on Embodi3D, go to the selling page.         Thanks, and happy 3D printing!
    • 0 comments
    • 675 views
  • Dr. Mike

    Easily Create 3D Printable Muscle and Skin STL Files from Medical CT Scans

    By Dr. Mike

    In this tutorial we will learn how to use the free medical imaging conversion service on embodi3D.com to create detailed anatomic muscle and skin 3D printable models in STL file format from medical CT scans. Muscle models show the detailed musculature by subtracting away the skin and fat. Even when created from a scan of an obese person, the model looks like it comes from a bodybuilder, Figure 1A. Skin models show an exact replica of the skin surface. The finest details are captured, including wrinkles and veins underneath the skin. Hair however is not captured in a CT scan and thus the model does not have any hair, Figure 1B. Figure 1A (left): A muscle 3D printable model. Figure 1B (right): A skin 3D printable model   These models can be used for a variety of purposes such as medical and scientific education and research. Additionally, the skin models can be used to re-create a person's likeness in 3D from a medical scan. If you have had a CT scan of the head, you can create a lifelike replica of your head. You can create replicas of your friends, family, or even pets if they have had a medical CT scan. Alternatively, if you have a loved one who passed away but had a CT scan prior to death, you can use the scan to re-create an exact replica of their face. Even scans that are years old can be used for this purpose. Some people may consider this to be a little creepy, so if you are considering doing this think carefully first.   Before proceeding please register for an embodi3D.com account if you haven't already. You will need an account to use the service. It is highly recommended that you download the associated file pack for this tutorial so that you can follow along with the exact same files that are used in this tutorial.   >> DOWNLOAD THE FREE FILE PACK BY CLICKING HERE <<   If you are interested in learning how to use the free embodi3D.com service, see my prior tutorials on creating bone models, processing multiple models simultaneously, and sharing and selling your models on the embodi3D.com website.       If you are interested in converting your own CT scan or that of a friend or family member, you can go to the radiology department of the hospital or clinic that did the scan and ask for the scan to be put on a CD or DVD for you. Figure 2 shows the radiology department at my hospital, called Image Management, and the CDs that they give out. Most radiology departments will have you sign a written release and give you a CD or DVD for free or with a small processing fee. If you are a doctor or other healthcare provider and want to 3D print a model for a patient, the radiology department can also help you. There are multiple online repositories of anonymized CT scans for research that are also available. If you have downloaded the file pack for this tutorial, example CT scans are included   Figure 2A, the Image Management (radiology) department at my hospital, where you can pick up a DVD of your CT scan as shown in Figure 2B (right). My hospital does this for free, but some may charge a trivial fee.   PART 1: Creating a Muscle STL model from NRRD File   Before we begin please bear in mind that this process only works for CT scan images. It will not work for MRI images. Before proceeding please check that the scan you wish to convert is a CT (CAT) scan!   Step 1: Convert Your CT scan to an Anonymized NRRD File with 3D Slicer Open 3D Slicer. If you don't have the software program you can download it for free from slicer.org. Once Slicer has opened, take the folder from the download pack that is called STS_004. This folder contains anonymized DICOM images from a CT scan of the legs of a 24-year-old woman who had a muscle tumor. Drag and drop the entire folder onto the Slicer window, as shown in Figure 3. Slicer will ask you if you want to load the images into the DICOM database. Click OK. Slicer will also ask you if it should copy the images into the database, click Copy. Slicer will take about one minute to load the scanned. Figure 3: Drag-and-drop the STS_004 DICOM folder from the file pack onto the Slicer window   Next, load the scan into the active wor king area in slicer. If the DICOM browser is not open, click on the Show DICOM browser button, as shown in Figure 4. Click on the STS_004 patient and series, and click the Load button, as shown in Figure 4. The leg CT scan will now load into the active seen within Slicer, as shown in Figure 5.   Figure 4: Open the DICOM browser and load the study into the active seen   Figure 5: The leg CT scan is shown in the active seen   Step 2: Trim the Scan so that only the Right Thigh is included. Click on the Volume Rendering module from the Modules drop-down menu as shown in Figure 6. Turn on volume rendering by clicking on the eyeball button, as shown in Figure 7. Then, center the model in the 3D pane by clicking on the crosshairs button, Figure 7. If you don't have the same window layout as shown in Figure 7, you can correct this by clicking on the Four-Up window layout from the window layout drop-down menu, as shown in Figure 8.   Figure 6: Turn on the volume rendering module   Figure 7: Center the rendered volume.   Figure 8: Make sure you are in the Four-Up window layout   Next we are going to crop the volume so that we exclude everything other than the right knee and thigh. From the modules menu, select All Modules, Crop Volume, as shown in Figure 9. Turn on ROI visibility by clicking on the eyeball button, as shown in Figure 10. Then, move the region of interest box so that it only encapsulates the right thigh, as shown in Figure 10. You can adjust the size of the box by grabbing on the colored circular handles and moving the sides of the box as needed.   Figure 9: The Crop Volume module.   Figure 10: Turning on and adjusting the crop volume ROI (Region Of Interest) Once the crop volume ROI is adjusted to the area that you want, perform the crop by clicking on the Crop button, Figure 11.   Figure 11: the Crop button.   The new, smaller volume that encompasses the right fight and knee has been assigned a cryptic name. The entire scan had a name of "2: CT IMAGES – RESEARCH," and the new thigh volume has a name "2: CT IMAGES-RESEARCH-subvolume-scale_1." That's a mouthful and I want to rename it to something more descriptive. I'm going to select the Volumes module, and then select the "2: CT IMAGES-RESEARCH-subvolume-scale_1" from the Active Volume drop-down menu. Then, from the same drop-down menu I'm going to select "Rename Current Volume". Type in whatever name you want. In this case I'm choosing "right thigh."   Figure 12: Renaming the newly cropped volume.   Step 3: Save the right thigh volume as an anonymized NRRD file.   Click on the Save button in the upper left-hand corner. The save window is then shown. All the checkboxes on the left except for the one that corresponds to the right by. Make sure the file format for this line says NRRD (.nrrd). Make sure you specify the proper directory you want the file to be saved as. When you are satisfied click on save. This is demonstrated in Figure 13. In the specified directory you should see a called right thigh.nrrd. Figure 13: The save file options.   Step 4: Upload the NRRD file to embodi3D.com   Make sure you are logged into your embodi3D.com account. Click on Imag3D from the nav bar, Launch App. Then drag-and-drop your NRRD file onto the upload pain, as shown in Figure 14. Figure 14: Uploading the NRRD file to embodi3D.com.   While the file is uploading, fill in the required fields, including the name of the uploaded file, a brief description, file privacy, and license type. Except the terms of use. next, turn on Imag3D processing.  Under operation, select "CT NRRD to Muscle STL."  Leave the threshold value unchanged. Under quality, select medium or high. Specify your privacy preference for your output STL file. If you are going to share this file, you can choose to share it for free or sell it. Please see my separate tutorial on how to share and sell your files on the embodi3D.com website for additional details. When you're happy with your choices, save the file, as shown in Figure 15: Figure 15: File processing options.   Step 5: Download your new STL file after processing is completed.   In about 5 to 15 minutes you should receive an email that says your file has finished processing and is ready to download. Follow the link in the email or access the new file via your profile on the embodi3D.com website. Your newly created STL file should have several rendered thumbnails associated with it on its download page. If you want to download the file click on the Download button, as shown in Figure 16. Figure 16: the download page for your new muscle STL file   I opened the file in AutoDesk MeshMixer to have another look at it, and it looks terrific, as shown in Figure 17. This file is ready to 3D print! Figure 17: The final 3D printable muscle model. PART 2: Creating a Skin Model STL File Ready for 3D Printing Creating a skin model is essentially identical to creating the muscle model, except instead of choosing the CT NRRD to Muscle STL on the embodi3D.com service, we choose CT NRRD to Skin STL. Step 1: Load DICOM image set into Slicer   Launch Slicer. From the tutorial file pack drag and drop the MANIX folder onto the Slicer window to load this head and neck CT scan data set. This is shown in Figure 18.   Figure 18: Loading the head and neck CT scan into Slicer. It may take a minute or two to load. From the DICOM browser, click on the ANGIO CT series as shown in Figure 19.   Figure 19: Loading the ANGIO CT series from the MANIX data set   Step 2: Skip the trimming and crop volume operations   In this case we don't need to trim and crop a volume as we did with the muscle file above. We can skip Step 2. Step 3: Save the CT scan in NRRD format. Just as with the muscle file above, save the volume in NRRD format. Click on the save button, make sure that the checkbox for the nrrd file is selected and all other checkboxes are deselected. Specify the correct directory you want the file to be saved in, and click Save.   Step 4: Upload your NRRD file of the head to the embodi3D website. Just as with the muscle file process as shown above, upload the head NRRD file to the embodi3D.com website. Enter in the required fields. In this case, however, under Operation choose the CT NRRD to Skin STL operation, as shown in Figure 20. Figure 20: Selecting the CT NRRD to Skin STL file operation   Step 5: Download your new Skin STL file   After about 5 to 15 minutes, you should receive an email that says your file processing has been completed. Follow the link in the email or look for your file in the list the files you own in your profile. You should see that your skin STL file has been completed, with several rendered images, as shown in Figure 21. Go ahead and download your file. You can then check the quality of your file in Meshmixer as shown in Figure 22. In this instance everything looks great and the file is error free and ready for 3D printing.  
    Figure 21: The download page for your newly created 3D printable skin STL file.   Figure 22: Opening the file in Meshmixer for quality control checks. The file is error free and incredibly lifelike. It is ready for 3D printing.   Thank you very much! I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you use this service to create 3D printable models, please consider sharing your models with the embodi3D community. Here is a detailed tutorial that I wrote on exactly how to do this. This community is built on medical 3D makers helping  each other. Please share the models that you create!
     
    • 2 comments
    • 4,757 views
  • Dr. Mike

    A Ridiculously Easy Way to Convert CT Scans to 3D Printable Bone STL Models for Free in Minutes

    By Dr. Mike

    Please note the democratiz3D service was previously named "Imag3D" In this tutorial you will learn how to quickly and easily make 3D printable bone models from medical CT scans using the free online service democratiz3D®. The method described here requires no prior knowledge of medical imaging or 3D printing software. Creation of your first model can be completed in as little as 10 minutes.   You can download the files used in this tutorial by clicking on this link. You must have a free Embodi3D member account to do so. If you don't have an account, registration is free and takes a minute. It is worth the time to register so you can follow along with the tutorial and use the democratiz3D service.   >> DOWNLOAD TUTORIAL FILES AND FOLLOW ALONG << Both video and written tutorials are included in this page.           Before we start you'll need to have a copy of a CT scan. If you are interested in 3D printing your own CT scan, you can go to the radiology department of the hospital or clinic that did the scan and ask for the scan to be put on a CD or DVD for you. Figures 1 and 2 show the radiology department at my hospital, called Image Management, and the CDs that they give out. Most radiology departments will have you sign a written release and give you a CD or DVD for free or with a small processing fee. If you are a doctor or other healthcare provider and want to 3D print a model for a patient, the radiology department can also help you. There are multiple online repositories of anonymized CT scans for research that are also available.     Figure 1: The radiology department window at my hospital.       Figure 2: An example of what a DVD containing a CT scan looks like. This looks like a standard CD or DVD.       Step 1: Register for an Embodi3D account   If you haven't already done so, you'll need to register for an embodi3d account. Registration is free and only takes a minute. Once you are registered you'll receive a confirmatory email that verifies you are the owner of the registered email account. Click the link in the email to activate your account. The democratiz3D service will use this email account to send you notifications when your files are ready for download.   Step 2: Create an NRRD file with Slicer If you haven't already done so, go to slicer.org and download Slicer for your operating system. Slicer is a free software program for medical imaging research. It also has the ability to save medical imaging scans in a variety of formats, which is what we will use it for in this tutorial. Next, launch Slicer. Insert your CD or DVD containing the CT scan into your computer and open the CD with File Explorer or equivalent file browsing application for your operating system. You should find a folder that contains numerous DICOM files in it, as shown in Figure 3. Drag-and-drop the entire DICOM folder onto the Slicer welcome page, as shown in Figure 4. Click OK when asked to load the study into the DICOM database. Click Copy when asked if you want to copy the images into the local database directory.     Figure 3: A typical DICOM data set contains numerous individual DICOM files.     Figure 4: Dragging and dropping the DICOM folder onto the Slicer application. This will load the CT scan.   Once Slicer has finished loading the study, click the save icon in the upper left-hand corner as shown in Figure 5. One of the files in the list will be of type NRRD. make sure that this file is checked and all other files are unchecked. click on the directory button for the NRRD file and select an appropriate directory to save the file. then click Save, as shown in Figure 6.     Figure 5: The Save button     Figure 6: The Save File box   The NRRD file is much better for uploading then DICOM. Instead of having multiple files in a DICOM data set, the NRRD file encapsulates the entire study in a single file. Also, identifiable patient information is removed from the NRRD file. The file is thus anonymized. This is important when sending information over the Internet because we do not want identifiable patient information transmitted.   Step 3: Upload the NRRD file to Embodi3D   Now go to www.embodi3d.com, click on the democratiz3D navigation menu and select Launch App, as shown in Figure 7. Drag and drop your NRRD file where indicated. While NRRD file is uploading, fill in the "File Name" and "About This File" fields, as shown in Figure 8.     Figure 7: Launching the democratiz3D application     Figure 8: Uploading the NRRD file and entering basic information To complete basic information about your NRRD file. Do you want it to be private or do you want to share it with the community? Click on the Private File button if the former. If you are planning on sharing it, do you want it to be a free or a paid (licensed) file? Click the appropriate setting. Also select the License Type. If you are keeping the file private, these settings don't matter as the file will remain private. Make sure you accepted the Terms of Use, as shown in Figure 9.     Figure 9: Basic information fields about your uploaded NRRD file   Next, turn on democratiz3D Processing by selecting the slider under democratiz3D Processing. Make sure the operation CT NRRD to Bone STL is selected. Leave the default threshold of 150 in place. Choose an appropriate quality. Low quality produces small files quickly but the output resolution is low. Medium quality is good for most applications and produces a relatively good file that is not too large. High quality takes the longest to process and produces large output files. Bear in mind that if you upload a low quality NRRD file don't expect the high quality setting to produce a stellar bone model. Medium quality is good enough for most applications. If you wish, you have the option to specify whether you want your output file to be Private or Shared. If you're not sure, click Private. You can always change the visibility of the file later. If you're happy with your settings, click Save & Submit Files. This is shown in Figure 10.     Figure 10: Entering the democratiz3D Processing parameters.       Step 4: Review Your Completed Bone Model After about 10 to 20 minutes you should receive an email informing you that your file is ready for download. The actual processing time may vary depending on the size and complexity of the file and the load on the processing servers. Click on the link within the email. If you are already on the embodied site, you can access your file by going to your profile. Click your account in the upper right-hand corner and select Profile, as shown in Figure 11.     Figure 11: Finding your profile.   Your processed file will have the same name as the uploaded NRRD file, except it will end in "– processed". Renders of your new 3D model will be automatically generated within about 6 to 10 minutes. From your new model page you can click "Download this file" to download. If you wish to share your file with the community, you can toggle the privacy setting by clicking Privacy in the lower right-hand corner. You can edit your file or move it from one category to another under the File Actions button on the lower left. These are shown in Figure 12.     Figure 12: Downloading, sharing, and editing your new 3D printable model.   If you wish to sell your new file, you can change your selling settings under File Actions, Edit Details. Set the file type to be Paid, and specify a price. Please note that your file must be shared in order for other people to see it. This is shown in Figure 13. If you are going to sell your file, be sure you select General Paid File License from the License Type field, or specify your own customized license. For more information about selling files, click here.     Figure 13: Making your new file available for sale on the Embodi3D marketplace.     That's it! Now you can create your own 3D printable bone models in minutes for free and share or sell them with the click of a button.If you want to download the STL file created in this tutorial, you can download it here. Happy 3D printing!  
    • 3 comments
    • 29,033 views
 

Atlas and Axis, 3D PDF

Hello My recent anatomy projects forced me to start importing my 3d models into 3d pdf documents. So I'll share with you some of my findings. The positive things about 3d pdf's are: 1. You can import a big sized 3d model and compress it into a small 3d pdf. 40 Mb stl model is converted into 750 Kb pdf. 2. You can run the 3d pdf on every computer with the recent versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader. Which means literally EVERY computer. 3. You can rotate, pan, zoom in and zoom out 3d models in the 3d pdf. You can add some simple animations like spinning, sequence animations and explosion of multi component models. 4. You can add colors to the models and to create a 3d scene. 5. You can upload it on a website and it can be viewed in the browser (if Adobe Acrobat Reader is installed). The negative things are: 1. Adobe Reader is a buggy 3d viewer. If you import a big model (bigger than 50 Mb) and your computer is business class (core I3 or I5, 4 Gb ram, integrated video card), you'll experience some nasty lag and the animation will look terrible. On the same computer regular 3d viewer will do the trick much better. 2. You can experience some difficulties with multi component models. During the rotation, some of the components will disappear, others will change their color. Also the model navigation toolbar is somewhat hard to control. 3. The transparent and wireframe polygon are not as good as in the regular 3d viewers. The conclusion: If you want to demonstrate your models to a large audience, to sent it via email and to observe them on every computer, 3d pdf is your format. For a presentation it's better to use a regular 3d viewer, even the portable ones will do the trick. But if the performance is not the goal, 3d pdf's  are a good alternative. Here is a model of atlas and axis as 3d pfg: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2gm7occq5ur50um/vertebra.pdf?dl=0 Best regards, Peter  

valchanov

valchanov

 

3D Printed Batteries Are Edible with Many Medical Device Applications

Implantable medical devices help diagnose and treat serious health conditions ranging from anatomical abnormalities to cardiovascular illnesses and kidney diseases. Commonly used devices include implantable cardioverter defibrillators, pacemakers, intra-uterine devices, spine crews, hip implants, metal screws, and artificial knees. Recent years have seen a significant increase in the use of such implants, which has led to the creation of several innovative products with improved function. Batteries play a crucial role in the successful operation of certain implantable devices. Most products rely on lithium cells that are powerful and easy to use. These electrochemical power sources can, however, lead to toxic side effects. Some patients may also experience biocompatibility issues. Healthcare professionals, nonetheless, had limited options, at least until now. The 3D Printed Battery Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are aiming to overcome the drawbacks associated with traditional batteries by developing biodegradable versions made from natural ingredients. They have developed a prototype battery that can provide 5 milliWatts of power for up to 18 hours. This energy is enough to deliver medications slowly over a span of several hours or to detect the growth of pathogenic bacteria within the body.     The battery is made from melanin pigment found in skin, hair and nails. The pigment protects the body by absorbing ultraviolet light and toxic free radicals. It also has the ability to bind to metallic ions and can therefore, transform into the perfect battery material. While melanin can form either the anodic or the cathodic terminal of the battery, magnesium oxide is used as the second terminal and the GI fluid comprises the electrolyte. The materials are housed in a three-dimensional (3D) printed capsule made from polylactic acid, or PLA.   A 3D printer allows researchers to deposit the desired materials on a substrate in a specific pattern. It was invented in the 1980s to create engineering prototypes. Soon, researchers began using 3D printers in the field of medicine to improve patient outcomes. The technology helps customize the shape and the size of the outer capsule as per the needs of the consumer. The 3D printed capsule maintains the structural integrity of the battery and allows it to glide smoothly through the device. The capsule can dissolve quickly once it completes the essential functions. Other natural components within the battery can also degrade without producing any toxic side effects. The Future Currently, most ingestible and degradable probes and drug delivery systems remain in the body for about 20 hours. Although melanin batteries are less powerful when compared to their lithium counterparts, researchers believe that they could work very well with devices that remain in the body for only a few hours. The new battery is in the initial stages of development and will need to undergo extensive clinical testing before actual use. Nonetheless, it is a step in the right direction. Eventually, it may be possible to create more powerful versions of edible batteries that can support all types of medical devices, irrespective of their duration of use.

mattjohnson

mattjohnson

 

How to Share, Sell, Organize, and Reprocess Automatically Generated 3D Printable Medical STL Models on Embodi3D

Please note that any references to “Imag3D” in this tutorial should be replaced with “democratiz3D”   In this tutorial we will discuss how to share, sell, organize, and reprocess 3D printable medical models you make using the free online democratiz3D service from embodi3D. democratiz3D is a powerful tool that automatically converts a medical CT scan into a 3D printable file in minutes with minimal user input. It is no longer necessary to master complicated desktop software and spend hours manually segmenting to create a 3D printable model. Learn how to make high quality medical 3D models with democratiz3D by following my introductory guide to creating medical 3D printing files and my more advanced 3D printing file processing tutorial. Once you create your medical masterpiece, you can share, sell, organize, or tweak your model to make it perfect. This tutorial will show you how.         Resubmit your CT Scan for Reprocessing into Bone STL If you are trying to learn the basics of how to convert CT scans into 3D printable STL models, please see my earlier tutorials on basic creation of 3D printable models and more advanced multiprocessing. If you are not 100% satisfied with the quality of your STL model, you can resubmit the input scan file for repeat processing. To do this, go to the page for your input NRRD file. IMPORTANT: this is the NRRD file you originally uploaded to the website, NOT the STL file that was generated for you by the online service. Since both the original NRRD file and the processed STL file have similar titles, you can tell the difference by noting that the NRRD file you uploaded won't have any thumbnails, Figure 1. In most cases, the processed file will have the word "processed" appended to the file name.   Figure 1: Choose the original NRRD file, not the generated STL file.   You can find your files underneath your profile, as shown in Figure 2. That will show you your most recent activity, including recently uploaded files.   Figure 2: Finding your files under your profile.   If you uploaded the file long ago or contribute a lot of content to the site, your uploaded NRRD file may not be among the first content item shown. You can search specifically for your files by clicking on See My Activity under your Profile, and selecting Files from the left hand now bar, as shown in Figures 3 and 4.     Figure 3: Showing all your activity.  
Figure 4: Showing the files you own.   Once you have found your original NRRD file, open the file page and select File Actions on the lower left-hand corner, as shown in Figure 5. Choose Edit Details as shown in Figure 6.   Figure 5: File Actions – start making changes to your file   Figure 6: Edit Details   Scroll down until you reach the democratiz3D Processing section. Make sure that the democratiz3D Processing slider is turned ON. Then, make whatever adjustments you want to the processing parameters Threshold and Quality, as shown in Figure 7. Threshold is the value in Hounsfield units to use when performing the initial segmentation.   Quality is a measure of the number of polygons in the output mesh. Low quality is quick to process and generates a small output file. Low quality is suitable for small and geometrically simple structures, such as a patella or single bone. High quality takes longer to process and produces a very large output file, sometimes with millions of polygons. This is useful for very large structures or complex anatomy, such as a model of an entire spine where you wish to capture every crack and crevice of the spine. Medium quality is a good balance and suitable in most cases.   Figure 7: Changing the processing parameters.   When you're happy with your parameter choices, click Save. The file will now be submitted for reprocessing. In 5 to 15 minutes you should receive an email saying that your file is ready. From this NRRD file, an entirely new STL file will be created using your updated parameters and saved under your account.   Sharing your 3D Printing File on embodi3D.com Sharing your file with the embodi3D community is easy. You can quickly share the file by toggling the privacy setting on the file page underneath the File Information box on the lower right, as shown in Figure 8. If this setting says "Shared," then your file is visible and available for download by registered members of the community. If you wish to have more detailed control over how your file is shared, you can edit your file details by clicking on the File Actions button on the lower left-hand side of the file page, also shown in Figure 8. Click on the Edit Details menu item. This will bring you to the file editing page which will allow you to change the Privacy setting (shared versus private), License Type (several Creative Commons and a generic paid file license are available), and file Type (free versus paid). These are shown in detail in Figure 9. Click Save to save your settings.   Figure 8: Quick sharing your file, and the File Actions button   Figure 9: Setting the file type, privacy, and license type for your file.     Sell your Biomedical 3D Printing File and Generate Income If you would like to sell your file and charge a fee for each download, you may do so by making your file a Paid File. If you have a specialized model that there is some demand for, you can generate income by selling your file in the marketplace. From the Edit Details page under File Actions, as shown in Figure 8, scroll down until you see Type. Choose Paid for the Type. Choose the price you wish to sell your file for in the Price field. This is in US dollars. Buyers will use PayPal to purchase the file where they can pay with Paypal funds or credit card. Make sure that the privacy setting is set to Shared. If you list your file for sale but keep it private and invisible to members, you won't sell anything. Finally, make sure you choose an appropriate license for users who will download your file. The General Paid File License is appropriate and most instances, but you have the option to include a customized license if you wish. This is shown in Figure 10.   Figure 10: Configuring settings to sell your file   The General Paid File License contains provisions appropriate for most sellers. It tells the purchaser of your file that they can download your file and create a single 3D print, but they can't resell your file or make more than one print without paying you additional license fees. All purchasers must agree to the license prior to download. If you wish to have your own customized license terms, you can select customized license and specify your terms in the description of the file.   Organize your file by moving it to a new category   If you share your file, you should move the file into an appropriate file category to allow people to find it easily. This is quite simple to do. From the file page, select File Actions and choose the Move item, as shown in Figure 11. You will be able to choose any of the file categories. Choose the one that best fits your particular file.  
Figure 11: Moving your file to a new category.
That's it! Now you can share your amazing 3D printable medical models with the world.

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

 

How to Convert Multiple 3D Printable Bone Model STL Files from a CT Scan

Please note that any references to “Imag3D” in this tutorial has been replaced with “democratiz3D”   In this tutorial you will learn how to create multiple 3D printable bone models simultaneously using the free online CT scan to bone STL converter, democratiz3D. We will use the free desktop program Slicer to convert our CT scan in DICOM format to NRRD format. We will also make a small section of the CT scan into its own NRRD file to create a second stand-alone model. The NRRD files will then be uploaded to the free democratiz3D online service to be converted into 3D printable STL models.   If you haven't already, please see the tutorial A Ridiculously Easy Way to Convert CT Scans to 3D Printable Bone STL Models for Free in Minutes, which provides a good overview of the democratiz3D service.   You should download the file pack that accompanies this tutorial. This contains an anonymized DICOM data set that will allow you to follow along with the tutorial.   >>> DOWNLOAD THE TUTORIAL FILE PACK <<<         Step 1: Register for an Embodi3D account
 
If you haven't already done so, you'll need to register for an embodi3D account. Registration is free and only takes a minute. Once you are registered you'll receive a confirmatory email that verifies you are the owner of the registered email account. Click the link in the email to activate your account. The democratiz3D service will use this email account to send you notifications when your files are ready for download.   Step 2: Create NRRD Files from DICOM with Slicer   Open Slicer, which can be downloaded for free from www.slicer.org. Take the folder that contains your DICOM scan files and drag and drop it onto the slicer window, as shown in Figure 1. If you downloaded the tutorial file pack, a complete DICOM data set is included. Click OK when asked to load the study into the DICOM database. Click Copy when asked if you want to copy the images into the local database directory. Remember, this only works with CT scans. MRIs cannot be converted at this time.   Figure 1: Dragging and dropping the DICOM folder onto the Slicer application. This will load the CT scan.   A NRRD file that encompasses the entire scan can easily be created by clicking the save button at this point. Before we do that however, we are going to create a second NRRD file that only contains the lumbar spine, which will allow us to create a second 3D printable bone model of the lumbar spine. Open the CT scan by clicking on the Show DICOM Browser button, selecting the scan and series within the scan, and clicking the Load button. The CT scan will then load within the multipanel viewer.   From the drop-down menu at the top left of the Slicer window, select All Modules and then Crop Volume, as shown in Figure 2. You will now want to create a Region Of Interest (ROI) to encompass the smaller volume we want to make. Turn on the ROI visibility button and then under the Input ROI drop-down menu, select "Create new AnnotationROI," As shown in Figure 3.   Figure 2: Choosing the Crop Volume module   Figure 3: Turn on ROI visibility and Create a new AnnotationROI under the Input ROI drop-down menu.   A small cube will then be displayed in the blue volume window. This represents the sub volume that will be made. In its default position, the cube may not overlay the body, and may need to be dragged downward. Grab a control point on the cube and drag it downward (inferiorly) as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 4: Grab the sub volume ROI and drag it downwards until it overlaps with the body.   Next, use the control points on the volume box to position the volume box over the portion of the scan you wish to be included in the small 3D printable model, as shown in Figure 5. Figure 5: Adjusting the control points on the crop volume box.   Once you have the box position where you want it, initiate the volume crop by clicking the Crop! button, as shown in Figure 6. Figure 6: The Crop! button   You have now have two scan volumes that can be 3D printed. The first is the entire scan, and the second is the smaller sub volume that contains only the lumbar spine. We are now going to save those individual volumes as NRRD files. Click the Save button in the upper left-hand corner. In the Save Scene window, uncheck all items that do not have NRRD as the file format, as shown in Figure 7. Only NRRD file should be checked. Be sure to specify the directory that you want each file to be saved in.   Figure 7: The Save Scene window   Your NRRD files should now be saved in the directory you specified.   Step 3: Upload your NRRD files and Convert to STL Files Using the Free democratiz3D Service   Launch your web browser and go to www.embodi3d.com. If you haven't already register for a account. Registration is free and only takes a minute. Click on the democratiz3D navigation item and select Launch App, as shown in Figure 8.   Figure 8: launching the democratiz3D application.   Drag-and-drop both of your NRRD files onto the upload panel. Fill in the required fields, including a title, short description, privacy setting (private versus shared), and license type. You must agree to the terms of use. Please note that even though license type is a required field, it only matters if the file is shared. If you keep the file private and thus not available to other members on the site, they will not see it nor be able to download it.   Be sure to turn on the democratiz3D Processing slider! If you don't turn this on your file will not be processed but will just be saved in your account on the website. It should be green when turned on. Once you turn on democratiz3D Processing, you'll be presented with some basic processing options, as shown in Figure 9. Leave the default operation as "CT NRRD to Bone STL," which is the operation that creates a basic bone model from a CT scan in NRRD format. Threshold is the Hounsfield attenuation to use for selecting the bones. The default value of 150 is good for most applications, but if you have a specialized model you wish to create, you can adjust this value. Quality denotes the number of polygons in your output file. High-quality may take longer to process and produce larger files. These are more appropriate for very large or detailed structures, such as an entire spinal column. Low quality is best for small structures that are geometrically simple, such as a patella. Medium quality is balanced, and is appropriate for most circumstances.   Figure 9: The democratiz3D File Processing Parameters.   Once you are satisfied with your processing parameters, click submit. Both of your nrrd files will be processed in two separate bone STL files, as shown in Figure 10. The process takes 10 to 20 minutes and you will receive an email notifying you that your files are ready. Please note, the stl processing will finish first followed by the images. Click on the thumbnails for each model to access the file for download or click the title.   Figure 10:  Two files have been processed simultaneously and are ready for download   Step 4: CT scan conversion is complete your STL bone model files are ready for 3D Printing That's it! Both of your bone models are ready for 3D printing. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Please use the democratiz3D service and  SHARE the files you create with the community by changing their status from private or shared. Thank you very much and happy 3D printing!

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

 

The Benefits of Additive Manufacturing Applies to 3D Printed Pills and Medication

In August 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first three-dimensional (3D) printed drug for commercial use when it allowed Pennsylvania-based Aprecia Pharmaceuticals to manufacture and market its anti-epileptic pill Spritam. The company relied on additive printing technology to create a rapidly dissolving pill that could be consumed with very little water. One of the main goals was to benefit patients who are unable to swallow medications, especially during an epileptic fit.

The licensed ZipDose technology used by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals combines formulation and material science with additive printing technology. The process involves deposition a thin layer of the powdered medicine on a substrate followed by the addition of a liquid to bind the particles into porous layer. The process is repeated multiple times to create a pill of the desired size and concentration. The success of Spritam has encouraged Aprecia Pharmaceuticals to use ZipDose technology to develop medications for other serious illnesses as well.   Dosage – Additive printing allows pharma companies to print drugs at specific dosages. Consequently, the patients do not have to suffer from poor prognosis associated with low-dose medications or consume high doses of drugs that can lead to unwanted side effects. As 3D printing technology becomes more prevalent in the pharmaceutical world, doctors can request for a specific dose of the drug instead of choosing from the available options. Solubility – Although rapidly disintegrating, porous pills have been in use for several years, they usually provide lower doses of the active ingredient. Three-dimensional printing technology has allowed Aprecia Pharmaceuticals to add up to 1,000 mg of the potent drug into one Spritam pill while retaining its solubility. This can benefit a large section of the population including young children, elderly, and patients suffering from complex neurological disorders. Compatible shape – Additive printing also helps produce pills in a variety of shapes and sizes, as per the needs of the consumer. Drug companies can produce small batches of the drug based on specific demand. Distribution of Production and Distribution – Unlike large machines, 3D printers are easy to setup and operate. The manufacturer can shift the production of the drug to a location that is closer to the consumer and thereby, lower transportation and distribution costs and reduce wait times for patients with potentially life-threatening conditions. Simplify Research and Development - 3D printing can also simplify research and development of new medications by making the process more efficient and cost-effective. Potential compounds can be printed in the laboratory and tested on 3D printed organs and cell lines for immediate results.
Recent developments in additive printing have forced most drug companies to sit up and take notice. They are investing millions of dollars in the technology to speed up drug development. While the time to replace medication prescriptions with printer algorithms is not yet here, 3D printing is bound to have a huge impact on the way companies develop and manufacture drugs in the near future.   Sources: http://www.computerworld.com/article/3048823/3d-printing/this-is-the-first-3d-printed-drug-to-win-fda-approval.html https://www.asme.org/engineering-topics/articles/manufacturing-design/3dprinted-drugs-does-future-hold http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/08/04/429341196/your-pill-is-printing-fda-approves-first-3d-printed-drug

mattjohnson

mattjohnson

 

Three-Dimensional Printers Changing Hospitals for Good

The three-dimensional (3D) medical printing and bioprinting industry is evolving at a rapid pace as 3D printers continue to move beyond research labs into commercial manufacturing facilities and hospitals. The printers are being used to create anatomical models, customized implants and even body parts that help treat, manage and prevent complex illnesses and injuries. The technology has contributed to the success several challenging surgical interventions in the recent times.   Three-dimensional Printing Systems While scientists are using 3D printers for a variety of purposes, most physicians are relying on them to create patient-specific models of targeted organs and tissues. Healthcare professionals obtain accurate dimensions of the patient’s body parts from radiological images and feed the information into a computer to print exact replicas of the organs. These models help the surgeons assess the abnormality with precision and practice the surgery before the actual procedure.

Several consumer-friendly 3D printing systems have been created to meet these needs. Belgium-based Materialise offers Mimics inPrint system that allows physicians to directly import patient images from hospital PACS and use them for 3D printing. The product comes with DICOM compatibility that supports all types of imaging machines. The semi-automated segmentation and editing tools within the printer’s software system ensure error-free printing and enhanced communication. Materialise sets up the entire system and trains the hospital staff to operate it efficiently.

Stratasys Inc. also offers additive printing technology to hospitals across the globe. It has the widest variety of materials ranging from clear, rubberlike and biocompatible photopolymers to rigid and flexible composite materials in over 360,000 colors. The Medical Innovation Series from Stratsys has been created for physicians, medical device designers, clinical educators and other professionals in the healthcare industry.
  Success Stories Twelve National Health System (NHS) hospitals in the United Kingdom are relying on Stratsys printers to create models that allow surgeons to analyze patients’ condition, test implants and practice surgical interventions for better outcomes. Most popular 3D models at NHS hospitals include jaw bones for facial reconstruction surgeries, hip models for hip replacements, forearms for repairing deformed bones, and cranial plastics for fixing holes in a person’s skull.

Doctors Without Borders, the Italian humanitarian organization, is also using 3D printed replicas of hospital models to setup new ventures in remote areas of the world. The technology allows physicians to have a realistic experience and thereby, improve patient care.

Several other healthcare facilities are also using additive printing technology for increased efficiency. Physicians at Hong Kong’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital used 3D printing technology to help a 77-year-old woman suffering from two damaged valves. The patient had already undergone three open heart surgeries and needed a complex fourth intervention. The 3D printed model helped the doctors complete the surgery in just four hours. In another case, surgeons at Children’s Hospital in Colorado and engineers at Mighty Oak Medical created a 3D model of a patient’s spine to rehearse the surgery. The physicians also used additive printing technology to print customized brackets to treat the patient’s scoliosis.

These success stories are inspiring other hospitals to install 3D printers at their facilities. They would, however, require expertise to handle the printer and tools to eventually use the 3D model for clinical purposes. Several facilities are incorporating 3D printing training programs to build knowledge within the institution and to lower the lead times for the actual procedure. While the initial investment may appear significant, most experts agree that 3D printing technology can be a game changer as it can help physicians improve clinical outcomes and reduce costs associated with complicated surgical interventions.

mattjohnson

mattjohnson

 

A Ridiculously Easy Way to Convert CT Scans to 3D Printable Bone STL Models for Free in Minutes

Please note the democratiz3D service was previously named "Imag3D" In this tutorial you will learn how to quickly and easily make 3D printable bone models from medical CT scans using the free online service democratiz3D®. The method described here requires no prior knowledge of medical imaging or 3D printing software. Creation of your first model can be completed in as little as 10 minutes.   You can download the files used in this tutorial by clicking on this link. You must have a free Embodi3D member account to do so. If you don't have an account, registration is free and takes a minute. It is worth the time to register so you can follow along with the tutorial and use the democratiz3D service.   >> DOWNLOAD TUTORIAL FILES AND FOLLOW ALONG << Both video and written tutorials are included in this page.           Before we start you'll need to have a copy of a CT scan. If you are interested in 3D printing your own CT scan, you can go to the radiology department of the hospital or clinic that did the scan and ask for the scan to be put on a CD or DVD for you. Figures 1 and 2 show the radiology department at my hospital, called Image Management, and the CDs that they give out. Most radiology departments will have you sign a written release and give you a CD or DVD for free or with a small processing fee. If you are a doctor or other healthcare provider and want to 3D print a model for a patient, the radiology department can also help you. There are multiple online repositories of anonymized CT scans for research that are also available.     Figure 1: The radiology department window at my hospital.       Figure 2: An example of what a DVD containing a CT scan looks like. This looks like a standard CD or DVD.       Step 1: Register for an Embodi3D account   If you haven't already done so, you'll need to register for an embodi3d account. Registration is free and only takes a minute. Once you are registered you'll receive a confirmatory email that verifies you are the owner of the registered email account. Click the link in the email to activate your account. The democratiz3D service will use this email account to send you notifications when your files are ready for download.   Step 2: Create an NRRD file with Slicer If you haven't already done so, go to slicer.org and download Slicer for your operating system. Slicer is a free software program for medical imaging research. It also has the ability to save medical imaging scans in a variety of formats, which is what we will use it for in this tutorial. Next, launch Slicer. Insert your CD or DVD containing the CT scan into your computer and open the CD with File Explorer or equivalent file browsing application for your operating system. You should find a folder that contains numerous DICOM files in it, as shown in Figure 3. Drag-and-drop the entire DICOM folder onto the Slicer welcome page, as shown in Figure 4. Click OK when asked to load the study into the DICOM database. Click Copy when asked if you want to copy the images into the local database directory.     Figure 3: A typical DICOM data set contains numerous individual DICOM files.     Figure 4: Dragging and dropping the DICOM folder onto the Slicer application. This will load the CT scan.   Once Slicer has finished loading the study, click the save icon in the upper left-hand corner as shown in Figure 5. One of the files in the list will be of type NRRD. make sure that this file is checked and all other files are unchecked. click on the directory button for the NRRD file and select an appropriate directory to save the file. then click Save, as shown in Figure 6.     Figure 5: The Save button     Figure 6: The Save File box   The NRRD file is much better for uploading then DICOM. Instead of having multiple files in a DICOM data set, the NRRD file encapsulates the entire study in a single file. Also, identifiable patient information is removed from the NRRD file. The file is thus anonymized. This is important when sending information over the Internet because we do not want identifiable patient information transmitted.   Step 3: Upload the NRRD file to Embodi3D   Now go to www.embodi3d.com, click on the democratiz3D navigation menu and select Launch App, as shown in Figure 7. Drag and drop your NRRD file where indicated. While NRRD file is uploading, fill in the "File Name" and "About This File" fields, as shown in Figure 8.     Figure 7: Launching the democratiz3D application     Figure 8: Uploading the NRRD file and entering basic information To complete basic information about your NRRD file. Do you want it to be private or do you want to share it with the community? Click on the Private File button if the former. If you are planning on sharing it, do you want it to be a free or a paid (licensed) file? Click the appropriate setting. Also select the License Type. If you are keeping the file private, these settings don't matter as the file will remain private. Make sure you accepted the Terms of Use, as shown in Figure 9.     Figure 9: Basic information fields about your uploaded NRRD file   Next, turn on democratiz3D Processing by selecting the slider under democratiz3D Processing. Make sure the operation CT NRRD to Bone STL is selected. Leave the default threshold of 150 in place. Choose an appropriate quality. Low quality produces small files quickly but the output resolution is low. Medium quality is good for most applications and produces a relatively good file that is not too large. High quality takes the longest to process and produces large output files. Bear in mind that if you upload a low quality NRRD file don't expect the high quality setting to produce a stellar bone model. Medium quality is good enough for most applications. If you wish, you have the option to specify whether you want your output file to be Private or Shared. If you're not sure, click Private. You can always change the visibility of the file later. If you're happy with your settings, click Save & Submit Files. This is shown in Figure 10.     Figure 10: Entering the democratiz3D Processing parameters.       Step 4: Review Your Completed Bone Model After about 10 to 20 minutes you should receive an email informing you that your file is ready for download. The actual processing time may vary depending on the size and complexity of the file and the load on the processing servers. Click on the link within the email. If you are already on the embodied site, you can access your file by going to your profile. Click your account in the upper right-hand corner and select Profile, as shown in Figure 11.     Figure 11: Finding your profile.   Your processed file will have the same name as the uploaded NRRD file, except it will end in "– processed". Renders of your new 3D model will be automatically generated within about 6 to 10 minutes. From your new model page you can click "Download this file" to download. If you wish to share your file with the community, you can toggle the privacy setting by clicking Privacy in the lower right-hand corner. You can edit your file or move it from one category to another under the File Actions button on the lower left. These are shown in Figure 12.     Figure 12: Downloading, sharing, and editing your new 3D printable model.   If you wish to sell your new file, you can change your selling settings under File Actions, Edit Details. Set the file type to be Paid, and specify a price. Please note that your file must be shared in order for other people to see it. This is shown in Figure 13. If you are going to sell your file, be sure you select General Paid File License from the License Type field, or specify your own customized license. For more information about selling files, click here.     Figure 13: Making your new file available for sale on the Embodi3D marketplace.     That's it! Now you can create your own 3D printable bone models in minutes for free and share or sell them with the click of a button.If you want to download the STL file created in this tutorial, you can download it here. Happy 3D printing!  

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

 

How 3D Printing is Changing Drug Discovery and Testing

Advances in science and technology are helping pharmaceutical companies and biotech giants to come up with novel molecules that may help treat serious and life-threatening conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. However, bringing a new drug to the market can get complex and exhaustive. While most companies pass through the initial stages of drug development with ease, they face a lot of challenges during pre-clinical and clinical trials. Recent numbers reveal that only one in 5,000 drugs become accessible to patients. The biopharmaceutical industry spends over $31.3 billion on research and development each year. They also face a lot of ethical questions related to animal testing. Nonetheless, this scenario may soon change as additive printing technology becomes more accessible and dependable.   Additive printing, also known as three-dimensional (3D) printing, involves deposition of desired materials on substrates to obtain 3D objects with specific dimensions and characteristics. Many different types of 3D printers are available in the market. Some machines help the user print mechanical and non-living objects. Others can print living tissues and cells when relevant biomaterials are added in controlled environments. Researchers across the globe have already succeeded in printing complex tissue fragments and even small organs such as ears using 3D printers.   3D Printed Systems for Drug Testing Organovo, a leader in 3D printing technology, has created multicellular, dynamic and functional 3D human tissue models for research and pre-clinical testing. As per the company’s website, the printed tissue will remain viable in vitro for a significant period of time while exhibiting all the structural and functional features of the actual tissue. Pharmaceutical companies can use these fragments to study the impact of new drugs on human cells and to predict the final outcome with greater accuracy. Organovo claims that its exVive3D will help researchers “assess biochemical, genomic, proteomic, and unique histologic endpoints.” Nano3D BioSciences, a Texas-based startup, has collaborated with AstraZeneca and LC Sciences to develop a cell-based assay system to assess the effects of a panel of vasodilating and vasoconstricting compounds. The company hopes that the assay will soon become a standard in toxicity testing and in the development of cardiovascular drugs.      Similarly, a Canadian company, Aspect Biosystems, allows researchers to create customized tissue fragments for drug testing. The researchers will place specific cells in a hydrogel and print tissue fragments that are allowed to grow in an incubator until they achieve the desired dimensions. The components will resemble the target tissue in structure and function.   Researchers at University of California, San Diego, have printed tissue fragments that closely mimic the human liver. According to Shaochen Chen, a NanoEngineering professor at the University, most companies spend 12 years and about $1.8 billion to create one FDA-approved drug. Their 3D printed liver tissue can help companies to perform pilot studies with minimal effort instead of waiting for animal testing or clinical trials, and thereby save millions of dollars.   Benefits Apart from making pre-clinical trials more accessible and efficacious, 3D printed tissues also help drug companies overcome ethical issues associated with animal testing. Most researchers agree that animal testing is expensive, time-consuming and often inhumane. The animals require a lot of care, and this limits the number of tests that can be performed at a time. Additionally, results obtained from animal testing may not correlate with actual results in humans. The 3D printed tissue fragments help overcome such obstacles and may eventually allow drug companies to simplify research and development. In the long run, it may also help reduce costs and make therapeutics more accessible and effective for everyone.    Sources: http://thenextweb.com/insider/2016/03/29/3d-printing-changes-pharmaceutical-world-forever/#gref http://eandt.theiet.org/news/2016/aug/3d-bioprinting.cfm    

mattjohnson

mattjohnson

 

How BioBots is Shaping the Future of Medical 3D Printing and Bioprinting

The three-dimensional (3D) medical printing and bioprinting market has exploded in the last decade with the invention of several new printers that can print everything from anatomical models to living cells. Each new machine has contributed in its own way to the success of this industry. However, only a few of them have impacted the field of medicine the way BioBot 1 has done in the recent years.

BioBots, a Philadelphia-based startup, hopes to use 3D printing technology to cure diseases, eliminate organ transplantation wait times, reverse climate change, and promote life on other planets. Their BioBot 1 desktop 3D printer is capable of printing live tissues from human cells. The low-cost machine is making bioprinting technology accessible to everyone from major universities to small research labs and is thereby, helping transform medicine and biology.
  The History of BioBiots The BioBots printer began as a dorm room project for two of its co-founders who were biology and computer science students at the University of Pennsylvania. Their initial prototype won a university competition and a $50,000 grant through the Dreamit Health program. The team began building smaller, cheaper and more efficient printers and is currently targeting biotech and pharma majors that spend millions of dollars on clinical research. The printer may help the companies generate specific cells lines and tissue fragments to test their therapeutics.   Unique Features of the BioBots Printer The popularity of the BioBots printer is not without a reason. The machine comes with several novel features and a small footprint. It can essentially fit into most bio-safety hoods and allows the researchers to work in a sterile environment with ease. The printer uses standard petri dishes and 96-well plates to simplify the printing process. The user can upload designs, choose biomaterials and eventually print the tissue fragments with minimal effort.

The BioBots 1 printer uses visible blue light to cure biomaterials quickly without damaging the cells. It includes a compressed air pneumatic system with a pressure range of 0 to 10 PSI that accommodates a variety of viscous materials and helps achieve specific start and stop points. The linear rails guarantee 10-micron precision. The printer also has two heated extruder heads to achieve temperatures between room temperature to 120 degrees. The Bio-Ink BioBots 1 printer also differs from its rivals in the type of bioink it uses. The support material maintains the structural integrity of the cells during the printing process and prevents their degradation after the printing is complete. The user also opts for a scaffold or a matrix gel prior to adding the cells and printing the final tissue fragments. BioBots offers a large selection of products for its printers including support bioinks, sacrificial bioinks, matrix base reagents, matrix ECM proteins, matrix print enhancers, and curing bioinks. The company has also created a bioink open source allowing researchers to improve the technology further. Potential Uses of BioBots Printers Although BioBots is currently pitching its product to companies and research institutes involved in drug development, most experts are hopeful that the use of this printer will expand further to benefit patients waiting for organ transplants. Researchers at Drexel University are using the BioBots 1 to print bone tissue while University of Michigan professors are using it to print nerve tissue. Physicians may soon be able to print compatible body parts with lower risk of rejection prior to transplantation surgeries for greater success.

BioBots 1 printer definitely holds a competitive edge due to its small foot print, ease of use, wide selection of bioinks, and lower price. The company is investing millions of dollars on improving the performance of the machine, and if recent developments are an indication, the BioBots is bound to play an important role in diagnoses, treatment and prevention of complex diseases in the near future.

mattjohnson

mattjohnson

 

How to create an NRRD file from a DICOM Medical Imaging Data Set

NRRD is a file format for storing and visualizing medical image data. Its main benefit over DICOM, the standard file format for medical imaging, is that NRRD files are anonymized and contain no sensitive patient information. Furthermore NRRD files can store a medical scan in a single file, whereas DICOM data sets are usually comprised of a directory or directories that contain dozens if not hundreds of individual files. NRRD is thus a good file for transferring medical scan data while protecting patient privacy. This tutorial will teach you how to create an NRRD file from a DICOM data set generated from a medical scan, such as a CT, MRI, ultrasound, or x-rays.   To complete this tutorial you will need a CD or DVD with your medical imaging scan, or a downloaded DICOM data set from one of many online repositories. If you had a medical scan at a hospital or clinic you can usually obtain a CD or DVD from the radiology department after signing a waiver and paying a small copying fee.   Step 1: Download Slicer   Slicer is a free software program for medical imaging. It can be downloaded from the www.slicer.org. Once on the Slicer homepage, click on the Download link as shown in Figure 1.   Figure 1   Slicer is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Choose your operating system and download the latest stable release as shown in Figure 2.   Figure 2: Download Slicer   Step 2: Copy the DICOM files into Slicer.   Insert your CD or DVD containing your medical scan data into your CD or DVD drive, or open the folder containing your DICOM files if you have a downloaded data set. If you navigate into the folder directory, you will notice that there are usually multiple DICOM files in one or more directories, as shown in Figure 3. Navigate to the highest level folder containing all the DICOM files. Figure 3: There are many DICOM files in a study   Open Slicer. The welcome screen will show, as demonstrated in Figure 4. Left click on the folder that contains the DICOM files and drop it onto the Welcome panel in Slicer. Slicer will ask you if you want to load the DICOM files into the DICOM database, as shown in Figure 5. Click OK Slicer will then ask you if you want to copy the files or merely add links. Click Copy as shown in Figure 6. Figure 4: Drag and drop the DICOM folder onto the Slicer Welcome window.   Figures 5 and 6   After working for a minute or two, Slicer will tell you that the DICOM import was successful, as shown in Figure 7. Click OK Figure 7   Step 3: Open the Medical Scan in Slicer.   At this point you should see a window called the DICOM Browser, as shown in Figure 8. The browser has three panels, which show the patient information, study information, and the individual series within each study. If you close the DICOM Browser and need to open it again, you can do so under the Modules menu, as shown in Figure 9. Figure 8: DICOM Browser   Figure 9: Finding the DICOM browser   Each series in a medical imaging scan is comprised of a stack of images that together make a volume. This volume can be used to make the NRRD file. Modern CT and MRI scans typically have multiple series and different orientations that were collected using different techniques. These multiple views of the same structures allow the doctors reading the scan to have the best chance of making the correct diagnosis. A detailed explanation of the different types of CT and MRI series is beyond the scope of this article, but will be covered in a future tutorial.   Click on the single patient, study, and a series of interest. Click the Load button as shown in Figure 8. The series will then begin to load as shown in Figure 10. Figure 10: The study is loading   Step 4: Save the Imaging Data in NRRD Format Once the series loads you will see the imaging data displayed in the Slicer windows. Click the Save button on the upper left-hand corner, as shown in Figure 11. Figure 11: Click the Save button   The Save Scene dialog box will then appear. Two or more rows may be shown. Put a checkmark next to the row that has a name that ends in ".nrrd". Uncheck all other rows. Click the directory button for the nrrd file and specify the directory to save the file into. Then click the save button, as shown in Figure 12. Figure 12: Check the NRRD file and specify save directory.   The NRRD file will now be saved in the directory you specified!
 

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

 

Recent FDA Approvals in the World of 3D Medical Printing

Three-dimensional (3D) printing technology was invented in the 1980s to create mechanical prototypes for the manufacturing sector. Healthcare professionals and researchers soon realized the potential of this novel technology in the field of medicine and began depositing desired materials on specific substrates to create anatomical models, surgical instruments, prosthetics and even body parts that could be customized to meet the needs of the user. Scientists rely on MRI and CT scan images of the patients to obtain the exact dimensions for the target object, feed the image data into one or more software programs, and let the 3D printer do its job.

Millions of dollars have been spent on 3D medical printing and bioprinting research in last decade, and such endeavors have led to the creation of several innovative solutions. Nonetheless, many of these products can't benefit the patients until they come with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) seal of approval. Recently, the federal agency woke up to the needs of the 3D medical printing industry and issued guidance for 3D printed medical devices based on design, manufacturing and device testing information. Many 3D printed products have received FDA approval, some of which are highlighted below.

The O2 Vent a 3D Printed Solution for Sleep Apnea
In April, 2016, Oventus, an Australian startup, received FDA approval for its titanium mouth device called the O2 Vent. The customizable oral device contains airways that reach the back of the patient’s mouth bypassing obstructions caused by nose, soft palate or tongue. The 3D printed device is expected to benefit over 37 million Americans suffering from sleep apnea while helping Oventus enter the $50 billion global sleep disorder market.    

Spritam, the FDA approved 3D Printed Drug
In another bold step, the FDA approved a 3D printed drug, Spritam, to treat partial onset seizures, myoclonic seizures and primary generalized tonic-clonic seizures. Its manufacturer, Aprecia Pharmaceuticals, used the ZipDose 3D printing technology to create a pill that disintegrates in the mouth with very little water and is especially beneficial to patients who cannot swallow their medication during seizures. The high-dose drug can impact over 2.4 million American adults with epilepsy, as per an article published in the March, 2016, edition of Forbes.

Lateral Spine Truss System
Another innovative product, the Lateral Spine Truss System, also received a go-ahead from the federal agency in 2016. It consists of 3D printed orthopedic implants, manufactured by 4WEB Medical, that allow for integrated instrumentation and customization. They come in sterile packs and can be used with most mainstream spinal surgery techniques. The goal is to deliver functional implants with a structural design.

CASCADIA Cervical and CASCADIA AN Lordotic Oblique Interbody Systems
The FDA has also issued a 510 (K) clearance to K2M for CASCADIA Cervical and CASCADIA AN Lordotic Oblique Interbody Systems with Lamellar 3D Titanium technology. While CASCADIA Cervical Interbody System is an intervertebral body fusion device, the CASCADIA AN Lordotic Oblique Interbody System has been designed for transforaminal-lumbar interventions. K2M expects its product to help the approximately 800,000 men and women who undergo cervical fusion each year.

3D Printed Cranial Implants
Brazilian and U.S. based BioArchitects collaborated with Swedish 3D printing company ArcamAB to generate patient-specific cranial implants. The company used Electron Beam Melting technology and lightweight titanium alloys to form the implants. Although the FDA approval is restricted to the non-loadbearing bones of the skull and face, healthcare professionals are hopeful that the technology can treat a variety of conditions ranging from trauma to congenital abnormalities.

While 3D printed products with FDA approvals strive to become more accessible to all patients, others are waiting in the pipeline for a green light from the agency. Licensing requirements include extensive lab testing and clinical evaluation. Doctors and scientists are, however, confident the products will meet the criteria and get the necessary endorsements from the FDA to eventually help transform medicine.

Sources:
http://www.news-medical.net/news/20160407/Oventus-gains-FDA-clearance-for-medical-device-designed-to-alleviate-snoring-OSA.aspx

http://www.todaysmedicaldevelopments.com/article/3d-printed-medical-device-4web-8316/

http://www.meddeviceonline.com/doc/k-m-enhances-d-printed-spine-portfolio-featuring-lamellar-d-titanium-technology-0001

mattjohnson

mattjohnson

 

Medical Researchers Use Three Dimensional Printing to Manage Cardiovascular Disease

When a 77-year-old patient at Hong Kong’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital needed a complex heart surgery, the surgeons at the facility relied on three-dimensional (3D) medical printing for additional support. The patient was suffering from two damaged valves and had already undergone three open heart surgeries. Her body was not ready for a fourth intervention. The doctors decided to replace the damaged valves by making a small incision through her blood vessels. However, such an intervention had never been performed. A 3D printer helped the doctors create an exact replica of the patient’s heart and practice the intervention several times. They completed the actual procedure successfully in just four hours.   3D Printing Heart Helps with Cardiovascular Surgical Planning
Surgeons at pediatric cardiac surgery center at the People’s Hospital in China also used a 3D printed model of the patient’s heart to analyze the anatomical abnormalities closely prior to the surgery. Their nine-month-old patient was born with malpositioned pulmonary veins and an atrial septal defect. The surgeons acknowledged that the anatomical model contributed significantly to the success of the intervention.   Researchers in other parts of the world are also looking at additive printing or 3D printing technology to treat and manage cardiovascular illnesses more efficiently. The technique involves deposition of desired materials on a substrate in a predetermined manner to print an object of choice. Healthcare professionals believe that this revolutionary tool will help millions of patients suffering from heart disease and stroke. An estimated 17.5 million people died globally from such conditions in 2012, as per the World Health Organization. They were also responsible for one in four deaths across the United States, as per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.   3D Printing Blood Vessels
The use of 3D printing technology is not limited to the creation of anatomical models. Scientists at Saga University in Japan used the Kenzan method of 3D printing to develop 2mm by 5 mm blood vessels for patients with myocardial infarction. The researchers used tiny vertical spikes to position the cells and form tubular structures in a nutritious broth. Traditionally, cardiologists replaced the damaged blood vessels of the heart with healthy ones from other parts of the body. However, finding compatible replacements without impacting other physiological functions has been a challenge. The 3D printed implants can be customized as per the needs of the patient and can be used to replace the damaged veins and arteries with precision. Cyfuse Biomedical is employing tissue engineering techniques as they work to bring bioprinted nerves, blood vessels, cartilage, liver and heart muscle to the clinic.     3D Printing Heart Valves
In another instance, scientists at Denver University custom printed heart valves that are the replicas of the original ones. Researchers obtained specific dimensions of the valves from CT and MRI scans and bioprinted them in just 22 minutes. Denver researchers are currently working to improve the biocompatibility of the 3D printed valves. The ultimate goal is to design patient-specific implants with a low risk of graft rejection.   Given these developments, healthcare professionals and scientists are immensely hopeful about the development of a 3D printed heart. The biggest challenge, lies in creating a network of functional blood vessels that will allow the organ to survive in the body for a prolonged period of time. While the idea of printing a human heart may seem far-fetched, it is evident that 3D printing is influencing cardiovascular disease management in a big way.   Sources:
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2016-03/17/content_23921711.htm   https://www.regmednet.com/users/3641-regmednet/posts/11230-nerve-and-blood-vessel-regeneration-using-3d-bioprinting-technologies   http://www.thedenverchannel.com/money/science-and-tech/denver-university-researchers-use-3d-bioprinter-to-create-artificial-body-parts

mattjohnson

mattjohnson

 

Advances in Otology: Overcome Hearing Loss With 3D Printing

Recent developments in the field of three-dimensional (3D) medical printing and bioprinting can revolutionize the way doctors approach ear disorders. The technology, also known as additive printing, allows the user to deposit a desired material on a specific substrate in a pre-determined manner to create 3D prints with definitive shapes and sizes. Scientists and healthcare professionals are already relying on this technology to create surgical instruments, anatomical models, diagnostic tools, prosthetics and even body parts. These novel solutions are offering hope to more than 360 million men, women and children across the globe who suffer from some form of hearing loss.   3D Printing and Smart Phones Make for Easy and Affordable Diagnoses
Recently, students of A&M Texas University’s chapter of Engineering World Health used a 3D printer to create LED ostoscope smartphone attachments that take pictures of the patients’ inner ears and help diagnose conditions contributing to hearing loss. Unlike traditional ostoscopes that cost hundreds of dollars, these smartphone attachments can be built for just $6.42. Doctors working in underprivileged areas of South Asia, Asia Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa can depend on this imaging device for accurate diagnosis, prompt treatment and effective prognosis.   3D Printed Hearing Aids
Ontenna, a simple hairclip with a built-in hearing aid, is another glowing example of the way 3D printing technology is impacting Otology. The 3D printed device picks up sounds between 30 and 90 decibles and translates them into 256 different vibrations and light patterns that allow the wearer to actually feel and see the sound. Ontenna was developed by Tatsuya Honda, a researcher and sign language interpreter, who worked closely with the deaf community and understood the drawbacks of traditional hearing aids. The device is currently in the testing phase and may soon be available for commercial use.  
3D Printing and Ear Prosthetics
In another pioneering attempt, physicians at Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, Scotland, under the supervision of Dr. Ken Stewart, adopted the 3D printing technology to treat microtia, a congenital disorder characterized by underdeveloped ears. Traditionally, children with this condition were required to lay down in an MRI machine for a significant period of time while the doctors obtained a 2D tracing of the normal ear. Understandably, most children were overwhelmed by the process and became fearful of it. Doctors in Edinburgh are now using a 3D scanner to obtain the exact dimensions of the child’s ear. A 3D printer then creates a replica of the organ, which is sterilized and used during the carving process. Dr. Stewart is also working with Edinburgh University’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Chemistry Department to bioprint an ear using the patient’s own stem cells and is very excited about the potential of 3D printing in managing hearing loss.  3D Printing the Ear
A study published in the October, 2015, edition of the journal Nature Biotechnology revealed that researchers have succeeded in printing human-sized ears with the help of the Integrated Tissue and Organ Printing System (ITOP) and have implanted them into mice. The implanted organs retained their shape over the next two months and formed blood vessels and cartilages. Success of ITOP in animal models is a big step in the right direction as it will allow doctors to print complex ear implants that are stable and functional.   Most people take their sense of hearing for granted. However, many conditions ranging from infections and injuries to fluid problems can impact it. Physicians and patients are looking for treatments that will help overcome deficiencies associated with existing modalities, and 3D printing technology is helping them do just that.
Sources:
http://thebridge.jp/en/2015/08/ontenna-lets-you-hear-sounds-through-your-hair   http://www.bustle.com/articles/142312-3d-printed-ear-jaw-muscle-implants-are-revolutionizing-medical-technology

mattjohnson

mattjohnson

 

Advances in Ophthalmology, Medical 3D Printing and Bioprinting to Treat Eye Diseases

Three-dimensional bioprinting and medical printing technologies are influencing the field of ophthalmology in a big way. Quingdao Unique, a Chinese bioprinting company, had announced in 2015 that they will be able to print 3D corneal implants within a year. Their products will be available for animal testing initially, and if everything goes as per plan, their 3D printed human corneas could be ready for clinical trials in the next two to three years. The company’s third generation bioprinter provides optimal conditions for cell growth with a temperature range of 0 to 50 degrees Celsius, humidity regulation range of 80 to 98 percent, and pH of 7.0 to 7.5. Quingdao plans to overcome strength and flexibility issues associated with most human implants by using the patient’s own cells for printing.   Ophthalmologists across the globe are very excited about this development. Corneal transplants help treat vision loss due to infections, congenital deformities and injuries. In fact, cornea is the most commonly transplanted organ in the United States with over 40,000 patients receiving a new one each year, as per the American Transplant Foundation. Yet, 53 percent of the world’s population does not have access to corneal transplantations, as per a global survey published in the February, 2016, edition of the journal JAMA Ophthalmology. Additionally, many patients experience complications when their immune systems reject the transplanted graft.   Three-dimensional bioprinting is, however, expected to change all that. Scientists and healthcare professionals can rely on additive printing technology to deposit patient’s own cells and other compatible materials in a pre-determined manner on a desired substrate to create patient-specific implants with a lower rate of rejection. The 3D bioprinting technology also accounts for the natural anatomical variations that exist among humans. Doctors can refer to radiological images of the patients’ eyes to generate implants that have the same dimensions as the original one.
3D Printing Aids in the Diagnosis of Glaucoma and Other Eye Diseases
Dr. Andrew Bastawrous, a Kenya-based eye surgeon, created a smart phone app to diagnose eye diseases such as glaucoma, macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. The app relies on the patient’s perception of the various orientations of the letter “E” to provide the diagnoses. A small 3D printed adapter can be added to the camera of the smartphone to obtain an image of the retina on the screen of the phone while administering the test. This technology is helping Dr. Bastawrous diagnose and treat thousands of patients with eye diseases in underprivileged areas of sub-Saharan Africa.     Ophthamology Surgical Planning
The use of 3D printing is not limited to corneal transplantations. Surgeons can use this technology to create models of the patient’s eyes and practice the procedure before the actual intervention. This preparation “would allow a full appreciation of the anatomic relationships between the lesions and the complicated surrounding structures,” as per an article published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. This invaluable tool has also transformed clinical practice and education. Researchers are using a 3D Systems Z650 printer to produce “highly realistic” 3D prints of orbits that offer enhanced visualization of the delicate nerves of the eye. The 3D models are made from non-human materials and thereby, help avoid the ethical questions associated with cadaver specimens.   These recent developments only form the tip of the iceberg. Nonetheless, they clearly exemplify the limitless possibilities of 3D printing in ophthalmology. The technology is bound to simplify the treatment of eye diseases and improve patient outcomes dramatically.

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mattjohnson

 

Hydrogels in 3D bioprinting May Lead to Organ Printing

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, 22 patients die each day in need of an organ transplant because the demand for organs far outpaces the supply. If the compelling idea of producing 3D printed organs is realized many lives could be saved.   A big challenge in this field is to produce printable material that can support cells and is also permeable to nutrients. A hydrogel is a type of synthetic cross-linked polymer that is highly water absorbent. Hydrogels are commonly used as tissue engineering scaffolds for cells because of their biocompatibility.   This is a hot topic in the field right now, and many people around the world are working on developing new bioprinting methods. A challenge to the development of these methods is how well the printed object corresponds to the plan.   A group of Chinese scientists did a study of how various printing parameters affected printing fidelity. They published their results last week in Scientific Reports, the premier scientific journal Nature brand’s open source online journal.   The printing material or bioink must be liquid before printing and gel after printing. To make their hydrogels, they used sodium alginate (the same material this group used to print vasculature), gelatin, and a solution of calcium chloride as a cross linker.   In order to develop a bioprinting process, they feel it is important to understand the impact of changing the printing parameters including air pressure, temperature, feed rate, and printing distance. Another parameter included the ratio of gelatin and alginate.   Using a lab-built 3D printer, they started out with printing 1D lines on a flat surface, connected at different angles. They moved on to lattice shapes as shown in the image above, looking at how well the lattice maintained its shape with different line spacings. The hydrogel tends to spread somewhat upon printing. The printing surface was cooled so that the gel formed. The experiments also determined the impact of gravity.   They used extrusion based printing as opposed to other types of printing because cells are sensitive to thermal and mechanical stress. They found that the 3D printing process did not damage or kill mouse fibroblast cells suspended in the hydrogel as it only had a slight impact on cell survival.   Finally, the looked at a 3D object with successive printed layers as shown in the figure below.   a- Digital model b- Outline of the first layer c- First layer with outline filled in d- Views of 3D structure with about 30 printed layers
 

Biopen and Bio Ink: 3D Printed Cartilage for the Knee

The knee joint is the strongest and the largest joint of the human body. It consists of the lower end of the thighbone, upper end of the shin bone, and the knee cap. The three bones are connected to each other with articular and meniscal cartilages that act as shock absorbers and help protect and cushion the joint. Degeneration of the knee joint due to age and overuse can cause unwanted friction and bone spurs. The condition, also known as osteoarthritis, is the most prevalent form of arthritis and is often seen in individuals over 50 years of age.   Osteoarthritis develops slowly and leads to worsening pain and stiffness of the knee joint, grinding or clicking noise during movement, and weakness in the knee. Treatment involves lifestyle changes, physical therapy, and viscosupplementation injections. Patients with severe form of the disease may require a surgical intervention. During the process, the doctor may remove cartilage from another part of the body and place it in the knee or may replace the damaged cartilage with plastic and metal implants.
Researchers across the globe are now looking at three-dimensional (3D) medical printing and bioprinting technologies to create highly compatible, patient-specific knee implants that will increase the success rates of total knee arthroplasty by improving patient outcomes and lowering the risks of a revision surgery. Unlike traditional implants that come in a few specific shapes and sizes, 3D printed cartilages can be customized as per the needs of the patient. Surgeons can use the additive printing technology to print larger cartilages as well.   The Biopen: A Handheld Bioprinter Used During Operations
A team of researchers and surgeons from St. Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, developed the Biopen, a type of 3D printer that helps doctors create cartilaginous tissue fragments during the actual surgical intervention. The surgeon can customize the size and the shape of the tissue as per the needs of the patient. Researchers predict that the medical-grade plastic and titanium Biopen will lead to 97 percent survival of the cells and will transform knee surgeries forever.     This technology may, however, have some drawbacks. The human cartilage is made of only one type of cell. Scientists, therefore, tried to grow the tissue by embedding specific cells in a hydrogel but the liquid medium may restrict cell growth and intercellular communication. Consequently, the new implant may not have the desired mechanical integrity. Additionally, the degradation of the hydrogel may lead to the formation of toxins that would inhibit cell growth. Hence, researchers began looking for other materials to create cartilage implants.   A New Bio-ink Holds Promise for Printing Cartilage
Scientists at Penn State, under the supervision of Dr. Ibrahim T. Ozbolat, created tiny tubes from algae extracts, injected cow cartilage cells into them, and allowed the tubes to grow for a week to create tiny cartilage strands. A bio-ink made from these strands was fed into a specially designed nozzle of a 3D printer to develop cartilage tissues of the desired size. Although this 3D printed cow cartilage is weaker than its natural counterpart, it is definitely better than the hydrogel version. Dr. Ozbolat believes that the implants will strengthen once they get exposed to the pressure from the joints. His team also hopes to mimic the entire process using human cartilage cells.     The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in two Americans will be diagnosed with osteoarthritis by the age of 85. An estimated 249,000 children under the age of 18 also suffer from some form of arthritis. Additive printing technology is offering hope to millions of individuals looking to overcome pain and improve quality of life. While most of these products are still at an inceptive stage, researchers are trying to start clinical trials at the earliest and get the required approvals in the not-so-distant future.   Sources:   https://www.engadget.com/2016/04/04/biopen-lets-doctors-3d-print-cartilage-during-surgery/   https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160627094828.htm

mattjohnson

mattjohnson

 

Role of Medical 3D Printing in Spine Surgery

Defects and deformities of the vertebral column can have a debilitating impact on the patient’s quality of life. Thirteen-year-old Jocelynn Taylor was no different. She was diagnosed with scoliosis, a condition characterized by an abnormally curved spine that may develop in children during one of their growth spurts. Jocelynn’s condition prevented her from being active in school and at home. Her vertebral column was also pushing her lungs and preventing her from breathing normally.   3D Printing Aids in Complex Spinal Surgery
Unlike most scoliosis patients, Jocelynn’s curvature extended past 100 degrees and required a complex surgery. Physicians at Children’s Hospital in Colorado took up the challenge under the supervision of Dr. Sumeet Garg. They worked closely with engineers at Mighty Oak Medical to create a specific three-dimensional (3D) model of Jocelynn’s spine. The model helped Dr. Garg with pre-surgical planning. He also practiced the surgery several times prior to the actual procedure and was prepared for any eventuality that could have crop up during the intervention. The surgeon also relied on additive printing technology to print customized brackets to straighten the vertebral column. Since the surgery, Jocelynn has been able to live life to without any restrictions and is immensely excited about the upcoming school year.   Dr. Ralph Mobbs, a neurosurgeon at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, worked with an Australian medical device company to print an exact replica of a patient’s cervical spine and its underlying tumor. He used the model to understand the patient’s anatomy and practice the surgical intervention. In the past, doctors usually avoided such procedures as one small mistake could lead to permanent nerve damage and quadriplegia. The 3D model helped Dr. Mobbs successfully remove the patient’s tumor without impacting the surrounding nerves.   Approximately 276,000 people across the United States are living with spinal cord injuries. An estimated 7 million people suffer from scoliosis. About 24,000 men and women have malignant tumors in their spinal cord. People also suffer from other spinal conditions such as spondylosis and intervertebral disc degeneration. Additive printing technology is influencing the way doctors approach these conditions and is helping improve patient outcomes significantly.   3D Printing Spinal Implants
Spinal tumors have also received a lot of attention in recent times. While their treatment often involves drastic measures, 3D printing is making it easier for patients to recover and rehabilitate quickly after the intervention. For example, surgeons in China had to remove a significant portion of a patient’s backbone along with the tumor to prevent the spread of his cancer. While the patient was able to beat the disease, he was unable to use his legs. Orthopedic surgeons at Beijing’s Third University Hospital, under the supervision of Dr. Liu Zhongjun, 3D printed patient-specific spinal implants to replace five missing vertebrae. The 7.5-inch long titanium mesh constructs allow the patient’s own spinal cord to grow over time, and the implant will automatically biodegrade over time.   Although some of these cases have received extensive media attention, they are not the only ones. Doctors across the globe are relying on 3D medical printing and bioprinting technologies to treat and manage many types of spinal conditions. In another important step forward,Oxford Performance Materials (OPM) received the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its spinal implant system designed to replace thoracolumbar vertebrae T10 to L1. The Connecticut-based company is now offering hope to thousands of patients with spinal trauma or cancer. The polymer construct met all the load-bearing and fatigue requirements of the FDA and is now available for patient use through specific distributors. OPM is working to expand its product line to include additional lumbar and cervical vertebrae. Other companies and research organizations are also looking for newer treatments that will help patients lead productive lives, in spite of their spinal problems. Collectively, these attempts will make 3D printing technology indispensable in the not-so-distant future.   Sources   http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-22/tumour-patient-gets-worlds-first-3d-printed-vertebrae/7183132   http://english.cntv.cn/2014/08/18/VIDE1408306798015287.shtml   http://www.tctmagazine.com/3D-printing-news/oxford-performance-materials-gets-fda-approval-for-first-in-kind-spine-fab-3d-printed-127384/

mattjohnson

mattjohnson

 

3D Printing Brain Leads to Advances in Neurology

The brain is arguably the most important organ within the human body as it controls major physiological and psychological functions responsible for growth and survival. Several conditions, including cancer, stroke, infections, inflammation, congenital deformities, and Alzheimer’s disease, can impair brain function and lead to serious illnesses and disabilities. Treatments may include medications, surgery and physical therapy among other things. Researchers across the globe are spending millions of dollars to improve patient outcomes and to enhance the quality of life of individuals with brain diseases. Three-dimensional (3D) medical printing and bioprinting are playing a crucial role in identifying new treatments and facilitating the implementation of existing ones.   3D Printing Brain Helps Doctors Treat Patients
Human brain is a complex organ made up of over 100 billion neurons that form trillions of connections, known as synapses, to send and receive messages. Each neuron plays a specific role in the body, and minor errors during surgical interventions may lead to serious complications and permanent loss of bodily functions. Neurosurgeons often rely on MRI and CT scan images to understand the anatomy of the patient’s brain and the actual defect. While the images are fairly accurate, they provide limited information and tend to miss crucial aspects of the problem that may impact the surgery.   Doctors are looking at 3D printing to increase the chances of a successful outcome. Neurosurgeon Mark Proctor and plastic surgeon John Meara of Boston Children’s Hospital created a 3D model of the brain of an infant, who was born with a part of the tissue outside his skull. The physicians obtained specific measurements of the patient’s brain from scanned images and fed the data into a computer to generate the 3D model. The model helped the doctors study the patient’s abnormality in detail and practice the procedure prior to the actual intervention.     Harvard University researchers studied several MRI scans before printing a three-dimensional smooth brain of a fetus, equivalent to the one at 20 weeks of gestation. The researchers, then, coated the 3D-printed brain with a thin layer of gel to the mimic cerebral cortex and placed it in a liquid to study the formation of folds in the brain. The aim was to understand congenital brain folding abnormalities and to help improve life expectancies of babies born with such defects.   The use of 3D printing is not limited to the treatment of anatomical abnormalities. Researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh are printing stem cells and other types of cells found in brain tumors using additive printing technology to recreate tumor-like constructs for the laboratory. The multicellular models are being used to study the anatomy and the physiology of brain tumors. Researchers are also relying on them to test new drugs and therapeutics that may finally help cure for this deadly disease.   3D Printed Microchips and Prosthetics Combine for a Sense of Touch
Prosthetic arms and limbs have been in use for several decades. However, most devices were clunky and uncomfortable. Three-dimensional medical printing has helped create prosthetics that can be customized to fit the patient perfectly. Modern, robotic versions can also help the patient move the limb as required. St. Vincent’s Hospital’s Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery has coordinated with scientists at University of Melbourne, the University of Wollongong, and several other institutions to take prosthetic arm research to the next level by developing a 3D printed prosthetic arm with a sense of touch. The idea is to establish a direct connection between the prosthetic limb and the patient’s brain.   The researchers are relying on 3D printed muscle cells on microchips to communicate with implanted electrodes, natural tissues and cells. A prototype of this robotic arm is expected by the end of 2017. Apart from producing high quality prosthetic arms, this new technology may also help treat other serious illnesses, including epilepsy, by establishing connections between nerve cells and electrodes to translate brain signals.   Stroke and Alzheimer’s disease are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, as per American Academy of Neurology. Furthermore, 8 out of 10 diseases found in the World Health Organization’s list of three highest disability classes have a neurological origin. Three-dimensional medical printing and bioprinting are offering novel insights into brain diseases and neurological problems and are allowing scientists and physicians to find cures with a lasting impact.   Sources:
http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/3d-printed-skull/   http://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/brain-cancer-3d-printing/   https://biotechin.asia/2016/06/02/3d-printing-of-brain-tumors-a-step-closer-to-treatment/

mattjohnson

mattjohnson

 

Impact of 3D Printing on Stem Cell Research and Therapy

Stem cell research has been plagued with innumerable controversies and ethical questions. Most researchers agree that these undifferentiated embryonic cells have the potential to treat serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease. They may also help evaluate the impact of new drugs and therapies at the cellular level.   Scientists, however, must be able to differentiate the stem cells consistently within a controlled environment to meet their specific needs. Furthermore, obtaining these cells from five to six day old embryos may not be acceptable to everyone. The scientific community is, therefore, looking at three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting to overcome some of the obstacles associated with stem cell research and to make the treatments more accessible, efficient and safe.   3D Printed Stem Cells
There have been multiple attempts to print stem cells in the laboratory. Nano Dimension, an Israel-based technology firm, recently filed a patent for 3D printed stem cells. The company collaborated with Accellta, which is known for its stem cell suspension and induced differentiation technologies. Researchers from both organizations worked together to accelerate the printing process with the help of a specially adapted 3D printer that can print billions of high quality stem cells per batch. Nano Dimension believes that its technology can benefit pre-clinical drug discovery and testing, toxicology assays, tissue printing, and transplantation.   Previously, scientists at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh created a cell printer that produced living embryonic stem cells. The printer, a modified CNC machine, was fitted with two bio-ink dispensers. The machine dispensed layers of embryonic stem cells and nutrient media in a specific pattern that was ideal for differentiation.   In another study, researchers at Tsingua University in China and Drexel University in Philadelphia developed homogenous embryoid bodies using the 3D printing technology. The process mimicked early stages of embryo formation that involves clumping of the pluripotent stem cells. Researchers of this study believe that these little building blocks will pave way for the creation of larger, heterogeneous embryoid bodies.   Recent Applications of 3D Bioprinting
Bioprinted 3D stem cells are also being used to treat a variety of conditions. For example, researchers at ARC Center of Excellence for Electromaterials Science and Orthopedicians at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, have developed a 3D printing pen that allows surgeons to create customized cartilage implants from human stem cells during the surgery. The handheld device offers unprecedented control and accuracy. The pen works by extruding the patient’s own stem cells along with a hydrogel. The cartilage tissue has a 97 percent survival rate and can heal the body over time. Researchers believe that this technology can also be used to create skin fragments, muscles and bone structures.   As part of the MESO-BRAIN initiative, led by Aston University, scientists differentiated human pluripotent stem cells into specific neurons on a specially defined 3D printed scaffold. The final structure was based on the outer layer of the cerebrum and included nanoelectrodes that enabled electrophysiological function of the neural network. The technology will help develop cellular structures for pharmacological testing and help find cures for complicated mental illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease and dementia.   Three-dimensional bioprinting technology is growing at a rapid pace, and scientists are using it to print stem cells as well. The 3D printed versions resemble the actual stem cells in structure and function without some of the drawbacks. Scientists and healthcare professionals across the globe are, therefore, excited about the limitless possibilities of 3D printing and its impact on stem cell research.
Sources:
http://www.tctmagazine.com/3D-printing-news/nano-dimension-accellta-3d-bioprinter-stem-cells/   http://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-have-found-a-way-to-3d-print-embryonic-stem-cell-building-blocks

mattjohnson

mattjohnson

 

Can Medical 3D Printing and Bioprinting Create Transplantable Kidneys?

Close to 26 million people suffer from some form of kidney disease, and one in three Americans are at risk, as per the National Kidney Foundation. Diabetes, high blood pressure, and family history often contribute to chronic kidney disease that can lead to kidney failure. Other conditions include cancer, infections, stones and cysts. Remedies could range from medications and chemotherapy to corrective surgeries and transplantation. Three-dimensional (3D) medical printing and bioprinting are transforming the field of nephrology by facilitating existing treatments and by improving the success rates of difficult surgical interventions.   Kidney Three-dimensional Models
The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs consisting of over one million nephrons that filter blood and remove waste from the body. Their intricate structure complicates diagnoses and treatment of kidney diseases. Additionally, the organs are located right below the rib cage and are surrounded by several other sensitive and important body parts. Surgeries can, therefore, get problematic, especially without proper imaging.   Healthcare professionals are trying to manage these issues by generating exact replicas of the patient’s kidneys using 3D printing technology. The models help them understand the anatomy of the patient and the abnormality prior to the actual treatment. Physicians at Department of Urology and Kidney Transplantation at the University Hospital (CHU) de Bordeaux in France scan patients’ kidneys and use the images to obtain specific measurements of the organs. They feed the information into a computer and rely on a Stratasys’ color, multi-material 3D Printer, to print models of the actual organs. These color-coded replicas are assisting the doctors with pre-surgical planning, especially when dealing with inaccessible tumors and kidney sparring surgeries. Researchers believe that the 3D models help prevent nerve and blood vessel damage during the intervention and significantly lower the risk of serious post-surgical complications.   Physicians in other parts of the world have also started using such tools. In a recent case, surgeons at Intermountain Medical Center in Utah studied the 3D printed model of a patient’s kidney and her tumor prior to the surgery to avoid major mistakes during the procedure. The detailed model helped Dr. Bischoff successfully remove the tumor without damaging the kidney. In another pioneering case, surgeons at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London transplanted an adult kidney into a child. Surgeons created 3D printed replicas of the donor kidney and the child’s abdomen to ensure the kidney can fit in properly. They also used the model to practice the surgery prior to the actual procedure. Given the immense impact, researchers are working hard to create machines and materials that make 3D printing more accessible and affordable for everyone.   Can Bioprinting Create Transplantable Kidneys?
At Fissell’s Kidney Project, doctors, scientists and bioengineers from a dozen different universities across the United States are collaborating under the supervision of Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s nephrologist and Associate Professor of Medicine Dr. William H. Fissell IV to create the first 3D bioprinted kidney for human transplantation. The goal is to develop a synthetic kidney with a microchip processor that acts as a mini dialysis unit. The implant will be powered by the pressure created due to natural blood flow in the body. The team expects clinical trials to begin by 2017. The National Kidney Foundation states that over 100,000 Americans are waiting for a kidney transplant with an average wait time of 3.6 years. About 13 people die each day waiting for a compatible kidney. If successful, the Fissell’s kidney project will offer hope to thousands of patients looking for a donor.   Kidneys plays a crucial role in waste removal and regulation of the blood pressure, and kidney diseases can have a debilitating impact on the individual’s quality of life. Three-dimensional medical printing and bioprinting are helping overcome some of the drawbacks associated with conventional treatments and are, thereby, helping improve patient outcomes.   Sources:
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/french-hospital-enhances-complex-kidney-cancer-surgery-planning-with-stratasys-color-multi-material-3d-printing-534025371.html   http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/intermountain-surgeons-save-patients-kidney-3d-printing-during-dicey-operation

mattjohnson

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3D Printing Makes Rib Implants Less Prone to Complications

The removal and reconstruction of a large part of the chest wall is often required to treat malignant tumors that occur in the cartilage or bone of the ribcage. However, the potential for complications in these types of surgeries is unacceptably high—the overall complication rate is over 40% and the 30-day mortality rate is up to 17%. Many of the complications are respiratory-related.   A team of doctors at Asturias University Central Hospital, in Asturias, Spain suspected that the patients’ difficulty breathing resulted from the stiffness of the implants. They performed a surgery using 3D printed titanium rib implant designed to be more flexible.   Using 3D printing to produce rib implants to replace parts of the ribcage is not new. A world-first surgery with a 3D printed implant was also performed about a year ago, also in Spain, according to articles published in Forbes and Gizmodo (entry image credit).   Because each person’s ribcage structure is unique, using 3D printing to produce such implants has the obvious advantage of producing an exact replica.   Both implants were made using information from a CT scan, and printed using the same technique—layer-by-layer electron beam melting starting with titanium powder in a high vacuum by an Arcam Q10 printer.     In this more recent surgery, the doctors made the implant less rigid by incorporating articulations as shown in the figure, on the right side of the implant. As you can see such a complicated object could only be created in one piece using 3D printing techniques. They published their findings in the Journal of Thoracic Disease.   Picture of titanium rib implant, Journal of Thoracic Disease  The 57 year old male patient regained normal function after six weeks without complications.   CT scan eight weeks after surgery, Journal of Thoracic Disease
 

3D Printed Dental Implants Are Transforming Dentistry

Since the 1970s, modern dental implants have helped millions of patients suffering from tooth loss due to periodontal diseases and injuries. Their success encouraged researchers and dental professionals to come up with newer designs to improve patient care. As three-dimensional (3D) printing became more efficient and accessible, dental professionals also began using the technology to create customized dental implants.
Recent Developments of 3D Printing in Dentistry
Most 3D printers use additive manufacturing technology, which allows dental laboratory technologists to deposit desired materials on a substrate in a specific pattern. The technologists scan the patient’s jaw to obtain specific measurements and enter the data into a computer. The printer uses this data to create customized implants with unprecedented accuracy and fit.   Maxillofacial surgeons at Baruch Padeh Medical Center and A. B. Dental created 3D printed titanium implants to help a 64-year-old man suffering from a metastatic tumor at the back of his jaw. The condition affects 1 to 1.5 percent of people suffering from malignant tumors and is characterized by pain, difficulty chewing and disfigurement. The 3D printed custom-made implants reduced recovery time after the surgery and helped enhance the patient’s quality of life.   As part of another revolutionary research study, scientists from University of Groningen in the Netherlands have developed 3D printed teeth using antimicrobial polymers. These replacement teeth and veneers contain positively charged resin groups that kill the bacteria, Streptococcus mutans, by producing holes in its cell membrane. Analysis within the laboratory indicated that the treated new teeth suppressed the growth of pathogenic bacteria by almost 99 percent when compared to their untreated counterparts. Additionally, these teeth are made from inexpensive polymers that are readily available.   In another pioneering attempt, researchers at University of Louisville recently developed a fully digital dental surgery protocol using 3D scanning, CNC milling and 3D printing to restore lost teeth. This new procedure skipped several steps from the existing implant manufacturing techniques and thereby, made the surgical intervention more efficient and accurate. The researchers used a 3D scan to obtain specific measurements of the missing teeth and relied on a CNC mill to generate the implant. They created an exact replica of the patient’s oral cavity with a 3D printer to guide the dentist during the actual surgery.   Benefits of 3D Printed Implants
While the above-mentioned examples offer insights into the rapidly growing field of 3D printed dental implants, multiple new inventions are happening as we speak. The ultimate aim is to overcome the drawbacks associated with traditional dental implants, which involve complex and invasive surgical interventions that are time-consuming and risky. The newer 3D printed implants allow dentists to replace lost teeth with pinpoint accuracy and minimal discomfort. The technology also allows surgeons to customize the implants as per the specific needs of the patient for more aesthetic results. Laboratory professionals can generate dental models and implants at a faster rate, thereby lowering the wait time for the patients.   More than 30 million Americans are missing all teeth from one or both jaws, as per the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. Over 3 million people have dental implants at this time, and this number is increasing by 500,000 each year. Dental surgeons across the globe hope that 3D printed implants will make treatment more accessible, safe and cost-effective for all the patients, and thereby, help them overcome tooth loss with dignity.   Sources:   http://www.stratasys.com/resources/case-studies/dental/oratio-bv   http://www.thejpd.org/article/S0022-3913%2816%2900031-7/abstract   http://www.gizmag.com/3d-printer-teeth-kill-bacteria/40161/   http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/these-3d-printed-teeth-fight-bacteria-180957030/?no-ist

mattjohnson

mattjohnson

 

Difference Between 3D Medical Printing and Bioprinting

Difference Between 3D Medical Printing and Bioprinting
The first three-dimensional (3D) printer was invented by Charles Hull in 1984. In the next 30 years, the technology advanced rapidly and evolved into a $3.07 billion industry by the end of 2013. The 2014 Wohler’s report expects this number to grow to $12.8 billion by 2018 and exceed $21 billion by 2020. Unlike the past, the use of 3D printing technology is not limited to prototyping and development of traditional consumer products such as cars and electronics. The technology has also revolutionized the field of medicine as scientists and healthcare professionals are using 3D printing to print everything from prosthetics and surgical instruments to medications and biological tissues. The goal is to develop highly specific therapeutics to manage complex illnesses and injuries.

What is 3D Medical Printing?
A variety of 3D printers are available in the market today. While some versions are highly versatile, others have been specifically designed to create a particular type of product. Traditional 3D medical printers use inorganic compounds such as polymer resins, metal, plastic, ceramic and rubber among other things. The printer will deposit the desired materials on a substrate in a specific pattern that is based on the texture and the dimensions of the target object. Users often rely on scanned images of the target to obtain accurate measurements. Research labs, surgeons and corporations have used this technology to create surgical instruments, implants and models of various tissues and organs.
How is Bioprinting Different?
Traditional 3D medical printing and bioprinting are obviously inter-related and somewhat similar to each other. In fact, many people use the terms interchangeably. While both printers use the same basic additive printing technology, bioprinting and 3D printing differ significantly at the implementation level mainly because of the type of raw materials they use.   Bioprinters have been designed to deposit biological materials such as organic molecules, bone particles, cells and other extracellular matrices on a desired substrate. Unlike traditional 3D medical printing, this process involves complex designing and extensive scaffolding as it aims to generate multicellular structures that mimic the real tissue in structure and function. In most cases, the printer should be maintained within a controlled environment to retain the viability of the product. Organovo is a leading company in the field of bioprinting.     Currently, bioprinting technology is being used to print tissue fragments, dental and bone implants, medications, and prosthetics. The products can be customized as per the specific needs of the patient or the research study. Many pharmaceutical companies are using bioprinted tissue fragments to understand the actual impact of medications and other therapeutics at the cellular level. Surgeons are also hopeful that the highly compatible bioprinted implants and tissues will increase the success rates of transplantation surgeries. In fact, many products are already undergoing clinical trials.   As per TechNavio, a leading market research company, the bioprinting industry will grow at the rate of 14.52 percent between 2013 and 2018. Along with 3D medical printing, it is helping surgeons and other healthcare professionals understand the human body in great detail. The two technologies are complementing each other and are evolving together to change medicine forever.
Sources:   http://www.azom.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=12824

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