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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!
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  • 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!  
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  • 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!
     
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3D Printing Makes It Possible For Scottish Researchers To Create Stem Cells

3D bioprinting has a lot of applications in the field of medicine. Innovators are making significant contributions to the development of the said technology. Aside from prosthetics, researchers can now use 3D bioprinting for stem cell research.   Researchers from the Heriot-Watt University in Scotland was the first group to 3D print stem cells using the valve-based technique. Dr. Will Shu, the lead researcher of the experiment, wants to use 3D printing technology for patient-specific drug treatments.   With the ethical issues behind animal drug testing, this technology is very beneficial to test different types of drugs. The problem with using stem cells for drug-specific treatment is that the live cultures are sensitive thus the cells may end up dying even before testing can begin. The new technique developed by the researchers may end animal testing altogether.   The team was able to print 3D printed stem cells by creating their own hardware to handle the fragile nature of the stem cells. Starting with small batches of 3D printed cells, the team was able to use the bioprinted materials to test drugs. This allowed the doctors to find out which doses provide fewer side effects but better benefits to patients. Dr. Jason King from Roslin Cellab was tapped by the researchers from Scotland to assist in developing products for the commercial stem cell sector.   With the vast horizon for 3D printing, scientists are discovering complex processes that they can utilize 3D printing to help ease different problems in the field of medical science.

Paige Anne Carter

Paige Anne Carter

 

Northeastern’s New Method to 3D Print Medical Devices Tailored To Babies

Randall Erb and colleagues from Northeastern’s Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering have pioneered a new 3D printing method to make patient-specific medical devices.   The method, which appeared in the October 23rd issue of Nature Communications, uses magnetic fields to shape composite materials in a 3D printer. The printer mixes plastics and ceramics into patient-specific products, which could mean an end to ill-fitting medical equipment for infants.   A Prevalent Problem   In the United States alone, almost 500,000 babies are born premature every year. Many people are familiar with photos of premature infants as the struggle to grow and survive in the neonatal care units. Some of the tiny infants weigh hardly more than a pound, and are covered with plastic tubes and catheters that deliver the vital nutrients, fluid, oxygen and medications they need to survive.   Despite the large number of premature babies, modern catheters still only come in standard shapes and sizes, making them ill-suited for these tiny babies.

An Innovative Solution  “With neonatal care, each baby is a dif­ferent size, each baby has a dif­ferent set of prob­lems,” Erb to Northeastern News. “If you can print a catheter whose geom­etry is spe­cific to the indi­vidual patient, you can insert it up to a cer­tain crit­ical spot, you can avoid punc­turing veins, and you can expe­dite delivery of the contents.”   The use of composite materials in 3D printing is not new, but this method is novel because it allows the researchers to take control of the arrangement of the ceramic fibers. This ability allows them to determine the mechanical properties of the material.   Such control is critically important when manufacturing materials with complicated architectures, which is definitely the case with small, custom biomedical devices. When crafting a patient-specific device, all components must be reinforced with ceramic fibers to ensure durability. The fibers must fill every corner, curve and hole in the device.   “I believe our research is opening a new frontier in materials-science research,” said Joshua Martin, a PhD student on the project.

A Lesson from Nature   “We are fol­lowing nature’s lead,” said Martin, “by taking really simple building blocks but orga­nizing them in a fashion that results in really impres­sive mechan­ical prop­er­ties.”   The new method in many ways mimics the formation of other natural composites such as bones or trees. The human bone contains calcium phosphate fibers that appear around the holes for blood vessels, enabling the bone’s strength and durability.   “These are the sorts of archi­tec­tures that we are now pro­ducing syn­thet­i­cally,” said Erb. “Another of our goals is to use cal­cium phos­phate fibers and bio­com­pat­ible plas­tics to design sur­gical implants.”   The research received one of the National Institutes of Health’s Small Business Technology Transfer grants to work on developing neonatal catheters.   Photo Credits: Northeastern University and 3Ders.org

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Selling Your Medical Model Files on Embodi3D.com

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!

embodi3d

embodi3d

 

3D Printed Models Revolutionize Cosmetic Surgery

3D printing provides a variety of applications for the field of medicine including cosmetic surgery. Currently, leading 3D printing technology 3D Systems partnered with a New York-based company to make cosmetic surgery experience more efficient for both client and surgeons.   Dr. Carrie Stern from the New York-based company MirrorMe3D noted that the use of 3D printing technology can help patients by creating before and after colored models of the parts that the patients need work on; for patients, seeing the before and after images provide a big relief on what they can expect for the surgical procedure. This will also help patients decide whether they will go ahead with the procedure or not.   Dr. Glenn Jelks from the NYU Medical Center acknowledges that 3D printing is indeed a game changer in the field of cosmetic surgery. Aside from the benefit it gives patients, doctors are also provided with a lot of information on how they will go about with the procedure to achieve maximum results.   The company 3D Systems is working on developing new software to help create the models for cosmetic surgery. The company is planning on using a specialized 3D printer called ProJet 660 color printer to create realistic before and after models of patients; thus patients have this weird but interesting experience of holding their new selves at the palm of their hands.   The thing is that 3D printing technology really provides insightful innovations for both patients and doctors so that they can enjoy the experience cosmetic surgery provides.

Paige Anne Carter

Paige Anne Carter

 

3D Printed Teeth: A New Way to Fight Oral Bacteria

Researchers at the University of Groningen in Holland are developing 3D-printed teeth from an antimicrobial plastic. The novel innovation may change dentistry forever, as it can kill tooth decaying bacteria on contact.   A Prevalent Condition   Ninety one percent of adults ages 20 to 64 have experienced some amount of tooth decay, according to the American Dental Association. For 27%, it goes untreated.   Severe tooth decay can also be quite costly to fix. A single tooth implant can run between $3,000 to $4,000, while a complete set costs between $20,000 and $45,000. Most insurance companies will only cover about 10% of the associated costs.   These statistics demonstrate how tooth decay is one of the most prevalent medical conditions in the US today.   A Novel Solution   The 3D printed teeth could solve a lot of these problems, as they would remain white and pristine regardless of care.   Andreas Hermann from the University of Groningen told New Scientist, “The material can kill bacteria on contact, but on the other hand it’s not harmful to human cells.”   The teeth will be made of antimicrobial quaternary ammonium salts integrated into dental resin polymers. When positively charged, the salts can cause bacterial membranes to burst and die.   The researchers created the blend with a 3D printer and hardened it with ultraviolet light. They printed sample materials including replacement teeth and braces.

As part of the research, they coated the objects with saliva and Streptococcus mutans for 6 days. The bacteria is common in the oral cavity and enables tooth decay.   Sample materials that had the positively charged salts killed more than 99% of bacteria. Materials without the salts killed less than 1%   Researchers published the plans in Advanced Functional Materials.   Future Directions   It will be a while before the 3D printed teeth will be made available to the public, but it’s a promising technology that many will look forward to.   The next step in the research process will test the durability of the tooth plastic for dental use, and its compatibility with toothpaste. It is possible that complications could arise with the technology because of dental wear-and-tear and toothpaste chemicals. As with any implanted material, there is also a possibility that the body will reject it.

As for the antibacterial component, it can likely be applied to a wide range of additional uses.   The researchers wrote, ”The approach to developing 3-D printable antimicrobial polymers can easily be transferred to other nonmedical application areas, such as food packaging, water purification, or even toys for children.”  
Photo Credits:   Mic, Science Alert, R&D

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cdmalcom

 

3D Printed Posterior Spine Truss System First to Be Marketed in US

4Web Medical is the first company to get FDA clearance for an additively manufactured spine implant in the US. The company announced at the North American Spine Society annual meeting in Chicago on Wednesday that they plan to launch their Posterior Spine Truss System in the US market.   An Innovative Advancement   Considered to be the leader in the 3D printed implant market, 4Web Medical has 3D printed around 6000 truss implants that have been used in surgeries throughout the world. The Posterior Spine Truss System is the company’s latest development in body fusion devices. The system can be used in many posterior spine procedures, such as PLIF, TLIF and Oblique approaches.   "The Posterior Spine Truss System represents a significant advancement in treatment options for my lumbar spine patients,” said Chief of Orthopedic Spine Surgery at Georgetown University Hospital, S. Babak Kalantar, M.D. "The expansion of 4WEB's novel truss implant technology into posterior spine procedures will allow me to utilise an implant with proven clinical benefits across the majority of spine surgeries that I perform.”

The Posterior Spine Truss System includes as selection of 150 implants, which surgeons can select from to find the right fit for their patient. The system is a step above what other orthopaedic companies are offering in terms if 3D printed manufacturing. Joseph O’Brien, M.D., the Medical Director of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery at George Washington University Hospital explained that most companies are using the new technology to produce the same annualr designs that have been available for years.  “4WEB is unique in that they are the only company in the spine implant market to maximise the opportunity that 3D printing affords by producing truss designs with distinct structural mechanics that have considerable potential to accelerate healing for my patients. These patented structures were not even possible to manufacture at this scale until only a few years ago.”   Optimal Functionality   The spinal implants designed by 4WEB offer novel a functionality that optimizes durability and enhancing the lives of patients who receive them. This is largely due to their biconvex web structure. This design allows the implants to distribute weight over a larger surface area in contact with the spine. This will greatly reduce instances of sinking or caving of the bone.

The web structure of the spinal implants are actually where 4WEB Medical gets its name. The company utilized foundational research from topological dimension theory to develop the web structure, and brought it to life with the 3D printer.  4WEB provides implant solutions for Orthopedic and Neuro surgeons, including the Cervical Spine Truss System, the Posterior Spine Struss System, the Osteotomy Truss System and the ALIF Spine Truss System. Current research will bring forth new innovations in implant designs for the knee and hip, as well as trauma and patient specific solutions.   Photo Credits: 4WEB Medical

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From Dicom to .STL

There are several options for clinicians to use when converting a patients .dicom data into a 3D printed model. For our 3D Printing Program I use the Mimics Innovation Suite made by Materialise. The software is available for computers running Windows. The software receives regular updates to improve functionality and increase the efficiency and quality of the .dicom to 3D print workflow. It is capable of converting CT, MRI, and 3D ultrasound images into 3D models that are ready for the 3D printer. There are many things that I enjoy when using this software, including:​ Ease of use for beginner users Fast processing time, <30 minutes for many projects Many different features available

To give a demonstration on how the software is easy to use, I will use a CT scan of my own head. After the files are loaded, the software detects the appropriate scan studies that are present. You are able to load multiple scans into a single project. Apply thresholding: Mimics has built in presets for CT bone, soft-tissue, etc. I selected the preset for CT bone. After the thresholding is applied a new Mask is created. The mask shows only bone in the scan. Edit mask in 3D: Before i create a new 3D mask, i can edit my current mask to make changes such as removing unwanted pieces and cropping the unwanted areas before moving forward. Region Growing: In order to remove floating voxels and detach unwanted bony anatomy, the Region Growing tool is applied. It will preserve only the bone that is desired in the mask. Calculate 3D from Mask: Once the mask is edited the way you need, you will Calculate 3D object from the Mask. The 3D object can further exported into 3Matic for additional changes or exported as an .stl file for 3D printing. Export to 3Matic: I would demonstrate the tools for cleaning and preparing the part for printing Wrap to fill small holes Smoothing to smooth the surfaces Quick label to apply a label to the part Fix wizard to make sure the part is watertight for printing Export 3D PDF as a communication tool
[*]Copy-Paste the completed file from 3-matic back to Mimics. Show the contours of the 3D model on the original images. Point out the importance of verifying the accuracy of the part prior to exporting STL.

Conclusion:  
When evaluating software for printing 3D models from patient scans, look at features, cost, compatibility, and ease of use. Ask for a demonstration and trial before purchasing. There are different options for software, it is important to look for one that works with your workflow.   Want to learn more? Contact Me David@3dAdvantage.org
Visit my site 3DAdvantage

descobar3d

descobar3d

 

Medical 3D Model Creation: From CT Scan to 3D Printable STL File in 20 Minutes Using Free Software Programs 3D Slicer, Blender, and Meshmixer

UPDATED TUTORIAL: A Ridiculously Easily Way to Convert CT Scans to 3D Printable Bone STL Models for Free in Minutes Hello, it's Dr. Mike here again with another tutorial on 3D printing. Proprietary software that creates 3D printable models from medical scans typically costs tens of thousands of dollars to license. But, did you know that you can do the same thing using freeware? It's true! In this tutorial I'm going to show you exactly how to do this.   We will be using the free, open-source program 3D Slicer to convert a CT scan of a skull into an STL file ready for 3D model printing. We will also use the freeware software programs Blender and Meshmixer to perform some final cleanup of the STL files before sending them to the printer. All three software programs are available on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux, so you can use the methods described here on almost all personal computers.   If you master this workflow you can create 3D printable models very quickly, as illustrated in my brief tutorial on Creating a 3D Printable Skull in 5 Minutes. If you are on a Mac and prefer to use Osirix, see my tutorial on Creating 3D Printable Models with Osirix. Once you have completed your 3D printable model, be sure to share it with the community via the File Vault, or if you prefer, you can sell it on this website.   Before you began I highly recommend you download the free associated file pack. The file pack contains files that will allow you to follow along with the tutorial, making it easier and faster to learn. This includes the same CT scan used here. The download is free for registered members, and registration is also free and only takes a moment.     >> DOWNLOAD THE FILE PACK NOW <<       Creating a Skull STL File for Medical 3D Printing using 3D Slicer   If you haven't already, download 3D Slicer from slicer.org. Open Slicer.
Drag and drop the folder that contains your DICOM images onto the slicer welcome window, Figure 1. If you downloaded the file pack, the DICOM folder is the one that begins with "1.3.6" followed by a whole bunch of numbers.  
Figure 1: Loading your DICOM data set by dragging and dropping the DICOM folder onto 3D Slicer.   Slicer will ask you to select a reader to use for your data. Leave the default setting selected, "Load directory into DICOM database" and click OK. Slicer will ask you if you want to copy the DICOM files into the Slicer database or just add links to the DICOM files. Click Copy, Figure 2.  
Figure 2: Telling Slicer to copy the DICOM files into the Slicer database.   Slicer will now take a minute or two to load your DICOM data. Once the data has loaded you should get a pop-up box telling you that the study imported successfully. Click OK. At this point a window titled "DICOM Browser" should be showing. Select the study with patient ID TCGA-06-5410. Click on the Load button in the lower left-hand corner, Figure 3.  
Figure 3: Loading the CT scan into the active seen within Slicer.   At this point you should see a matrix with four boxes in the right half of the Slicer window. In three of the boxes you will see the axial (transverse), sagittal, and coronal views of your imaging study. If you don't see this, you can adjust the viewport layout using the viewport button.
Select the Four-Up viewport layout as shown in Figure 4.  
Figure 4: Selecting the Four-up viewport layout.   Next, go to the Volume Rendering module. You can access this from the drop-down menu at the top now bar as shown in Figure 5.  
Figure 5: Selecting the Volume Rendering module.   Once you are in Volume Rendering, turn on volume rendering by clicking the small eyeball to the left of the Volume drop-down menu, as shown in Figure 6. The 3D volume should now be displayed in the fourth square on the right part of the Slicer window. However, the volume is likely not centered. To center the volume click on the small crosshairs at the upper left corner of the volume screen, as shown in Figure 6.  
Figure 6: Turning on volume rendering and centering the volume view.   You now need to adjust the appearance of your 3D volume. Under the Display section, select a Preset. For this model, select the third icon from the left on the top row, which should be CT-Bone. Slide the Shift slider to the right until the 3D volume looks good. These actions are shown in Figure 7.  
Figure 7: Selecting and adjusting a 3D display Preset.   Now we are going to start actually constructing our 3D surface model. From the module drop-down menu, Editor, as shown in Figure 8. When asked to create a merge label map, use the default selection GenericAnatomyColors, and click Apply, as shown in Figure 9.  
Figure 8: Selecting the Editor module.  
Figure 9: Choose the default merge label map.   First, we're going to create a label map that denotes the skull. Click on the Threshold Effect Tool button. It looks like this.
The threshold effect tool will then open as shown in Figure 10. We want to select bone, so click on the green rectangle to bring up a choice of label maps. Select 2 – bone. The blinking area should turn a yellow-orange color. Next, define the minimum Threshold Range. If you are using the DICOM data set from the file pack, set this to 1250. If you are using your own scan, this will be a different number, probably closer to 300. Experiment with the values until the blinking region seems to encompass the structures you want to 3D print. Leave the default maximum Threshold Range at 4095. The settings that you need to modify are shown in Figure 11. When you are satisfied with your selection, click Apply.  
Figure 10: The Threshold Effect Tool.  
Figure 11: The Threshold Effect parameters to set.   Now you have created a "label map" that encompasses the bony skull we wish to 3D print. We need to generate a surface model. Click on the Make Model Effect button, which looks like this.
Make sure that the target label is still set to 2 (bone). Click Apply, as shown in Figure 12. 3D Slicer will take about 10 seconds to generate the surface model. When it is completed, you will notice a slight change in the appearance of the 3D rendered image in the upper right view box.  
Figure 12: The Make Model Effect tool.   You now have a 3D surface model, and need to save it in STL file format. Click on the save button on the left portion of the upper toolbar. 3D Slicer asks you what you want to save. The only thing we are interested in is the bone surface model, so uncheck everything except "bone.vtk." Choose STL for file format and specify the directory you want the file to be saved, as shown in Figure 13.  
Figure 13: Saving your 3D surface model as an STL file.   You should now have a file called bone.STL. Although tempting to send your new STL file directly to a 3D printer, don't do it. Your file is not yet ready for 3D printing. Fortunately, we can fix most problems with our next software program, Blender.   Performing Additional Skull STL File Cleanup in Blender   If you haven't already, download the free Blender software program from blender.org. Install it and open Blender.
Delete the default cube that is shown in Blender by hitting the X key followed by the D key. Import the STL file by going to the File menu -> Import -> STL, as shown in Figure 14. Blender may take 10 to 15 seconds to import the file as it is fairly large.  
Figure 14: Importing the STL file into Blender.   Next, you need to center the skull object in the field of view. Select the Object menu in the lower left-hand corner, then click Transform -> Geometry to Origin, as shown in Figure 15.  
Figure 15: Centering the object in the field of view using the Geometry to Origin function.   You will notice that the imported skull appears quite large. Don't worry about this. Simply use your scroll wheel on the mouse to scroll out. If you have a middle mouse button, you can use it to rotate the skull. Next, we are going to delete the innumerable disconnected mesh islands in our skull object. Go to Edit Mode, as shown in Figure 16.  
Figure 16: Entering Edit Mode.   When you are in Edit Mode, you can directly edit the mesh of your object. Initially, the entire mesh is selected, thus the skull appears orange. Right click somewhere on the skull. It does not matter where as long as it is not one of the disconnected mesh islands. By right clicking, you will select a single vertex. Expand the selection to include all connected vertices by clicking Control-L on your keyboard. You will notice that the skull has turned orange, but the disconnected mesh islands are still black. Next, we want to invert the selection by hitting Control-I on your keyboard. The selection is now inverted, and only the disconnected mesh islands should be shown highlighted in orange, as shown in Figure 17.  
Figure 17: Selecting the disconnected mesh islands.   With the disconnected mesh islands selected, delete them by hitting the X key on the keyboard. A menu of deletion choices is presented. Type "V" for Vertices. This is shown in Figure 18. The disconnected mesh islands are now deleted.  
Figure 18: Deleting the vertices of the disconnected mesh islands.   Go back to Object Mode by selecting it from the mode button on the lower left as shown in Figure 19.  
Figure 19: Returning to Object Mode.   From Object Mode select the Modifiers toolbar. It has a button that looks like a small wrench and is located in the right tool column. Modifiers are functions that you can apply to your mesh to change its appearance. In this case, we are going to smooth out our mesh. Click on the Add Modifier menu and select Smooth from the Deform column. DO NOT select Laplacian Smooth. That is a different modifier. The correct selection is shown in Figure 20.  
Figure 20: Opening the Smooth Modifier.   Set the Repeat field to 30. Blender may take a few seconds to perform the smoothing function. Then, click Apply, as shown in Figure 21.  
Figure 21: Settings for the Smooth Modifier.   You are now ready to save your smoothed and cleaned-up STL file. From the File menu, select Export -> STL, as shown in Figure 22. Navigate to the folder you want the file to be saved in and type a file name. In this case, we are going to call the file "bone smoothed.stl." Close Blender.  
Figure 22: Saving your cleaned-up STL file.
Performing a Final File Check in Meshmixer Before 3D Bioprinting   If you haven't already, download Meshmixer from Meshmixer.com. Open Meshmixer.
Click on the Import button as shown in Figure 23. Select your smoothed STL file that you just created in Blender.  
Figure 23: Meshmixer's Import button.   Meshmixer will take 10 to 15 seconds to import the file. Once imported, you can rotate the orientation of your skull object by using the right mouse button. Click on the Analysis button and choose Inspector as shown in Figure 24. The Inspector tool will check your mesh for the defects that could cause problems during 3D printing. Any problem areas will be highlighted by red, blue, or pink lines. In this case, our mesh looks great, without any errors as shown in Figure 25.  
Figure 24: Opening the Inspector tool.  
Figure 25: A clean mesh ready to 3D print!   That's it! You have now created a defect-free high quality STL file of the skull from a CT scan using free software. You can take the money you saved by not buying proprietary software to do the same thing, and by yourself a new car or something.  
Figure 26: The Final 3D printed product.   I hope you found this tutorial helpful, and you will begin designing 3D printable medical models from medical scans yourself. Embodi3D is here to help you. If you have questions, post them in the comments below or in the Forums. Share 3D printable models you have designed in the File Vault, or download models that others have shared. You can even sell your 3D printable creations! If you want to learn more about how to create 3D printable medical models, there are many more helpful and free tutorials.

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

 

New 3D Printing Technology Creates Microscopic Structures Using Human Cells

3D bioprinting is an important innovation in medical science. Through this wonderful innovation, researchers were able to make important applications. In fact, it is now possible for researchers to create organs like human ears; however this technology finds it difficult to create soft structures that have minute internal support. Unfortunately, 3D bioprinting still cannot print small structures like the veins or small organs because they have the tendency to collapse even before they can become viable.   A team of researcher from the University of Florida acknowledges this problem, thus, they developed a process that allows small structures to be printed out without even collapsing. The process involves injecting inks that are loaded with special gels that will hold the organs together.   What makes this particular 3D bioprinting innovation possible is the use of a hydrogel called Carbopol gel made from very small particles. This gel acts as both the liquid and solid scaffold that shears the stress applied directly on the structure. This property of the gel allows the printer to deposit the gel on the printing medium without disrupting or destroying the entire structure. The researchers were able to create different complex shapes using the 3D bioprinter and this hydrogel.   Thomas Angelini, researcher from the University of Florida, noted that the 3D bioprinting is no longer used to print solid organs. With the help of this new gel, it is now possible for doctors and medical researchers to create extensive microscopic soft tissues that can be used in transplanting different organs.

Paige Anne Carter

Paige Anne Carter

 

3D Printing Helped Solve 5-Year Old’s Life-Threatening Heart Condition

A 3D printed heart model allowed doctors to perfect a life-saving surgery for 5-year-old Mia Gonzalez. Mia was born with a double aortic arch, a rare heart malformation where a vascular ring wraps around the trachea or esophagus, which restricts airflow. The condition required a complex operation to fix, but surgeons at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami were able to use a 3D printed model of Mia’s heart to plan the surgery and practice using Mia’s specific heart structure.   A Practiced Procedure   They printed two model of her heart, a flexible grey version and a clear, rigid one. Examining the clear 3D printed model of Mia’s heart allowed doctors to determine what the best treatment would be for the patient. The grey model then helped doctors successfully complete the complicated surgery. The clear plan they developed shorted the operation by about two hours.   “With a 3D printed model, we were able to figure out which part of her arch should be divided to achieve the best physiological result,” said Dr. Redmond Burke, Director of Pediatric Cardiovascular Surgery at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.   “The challenge is a surgical one, how do you divide this double aortic arch and save her life without hurting her,” said Dr. Burke. “By making a 3D model of her very complex aortic arch vessels, we were able to further visualize which part of her arch should be divided to achieve the best physiological result. It’s very powerful when you show a family ‘this is your baby’s heart and this is how I’m going to repair it.’”

A Method on the Rise  Surgeons at the hospital have begun using Stsratasys 3D Printers as tools to help improve patient outcomes by 3D printing lifelike organ models. Burke and his colleagues created heart models for about 25 children with congenital heart defects so far. In the past, surgeries like this on children might not have been worth the risk.   “Once patient scan data from MR or CT imaging is fed into the Stratasys 3D Printer, doctors can create a model with all its intricacies, specific features and fine detail. This significantly enhances surgical preparedness, reduces complications and decreases operating time,” said Scott Rader, GM of Medical Solutions at Stratasys.   3D printers have been used to make prototypes for surgical tools for more than twenty years, but only recently have been used to print organ models. Roughly 75 hospitals throughout the US have a printer for this purpose, of about 200 around the world. 3D printed simulated organs have now been used by surgeons to prepare for a wide range of difficult operations, such as correcting a severe cleft palate or removing a brain tumor.  
Photo Credits: CNN

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Cancer Patient From Croatia Receives 3D Printed Acrylic Vertebra: The First In The World

3D printing is widely used in the medical industry to create a wide array of innovations to help different patients suffering from various maladies. Currently, all eyes are at Croatia as researchers were able to perform a successful operation on a patient suffering from spinal tumor. It is not common to hear innovations on treating spinal maladies using 3D printing, but what makes this particular operation innovative was that it is the first one to use all 3D-printed acrylic vertebra–the first of its kind!   Doctors from the Neurosurgical Clinic in Rijeka noted that the 3D printed acrylic vertebra that was used to replace the patient’s metastasized vertebra is that it is affordable and easy to work with. His doctor noted that unlike pre-manufactured designs, the 3D printed vertebra makes the surgery convenient and the patient’s recovery faster.   Instead of using the standard material–titanium mixed with acrylic–the patient was able to afford the surgery. Moreover, the doctors were also able to conduct the operation within a short period of time. For the medical researchers to create the customized vertebra, they used the patient’s imaging tests to create a perfect replacement.   In a country like Croatia, patients cannot readily afford 3D printing technology as their best surgical option. This is the reason why they opt for conventional treatments. What makes conventional treatments challenging is that they are not always effective when it comes to treating rare and difficult conditions. With this new 3D printing innovation, patients now have access to cheap yet effective treatments.

Paige Anne Carter

Paige Anne Carter

 

Dual Syringe 3D Printer Head Developed By Argentinean Researchers

The 3D printing technology is constantly being innovated by dedicated scientists and researchers to improve its many applications in the field of engineering, manufacturing and medicine. The research center of the National University of La Plata in Argentina, LIFIA, created a special 3D printer head that has the ability to control two syringes thus allowing medical researcher to print biopolymers with complicated geometric patterns. This new innovation won an award and received funding for further development from the Ministry of Science and Technology in Argentina.   Lead researcher, Sergio Katz, noted that the idea of developing a special printer head came from the need to design a system that can control the layering of biopolymers. With the new printer head, the biopolymers create a new hydrocolloidal matrix which makes it easier for the polymers to align. This technology, if perfected, can be used in various applications in the field of medicine and these include customized drug administration.   Currently, this printer head is able to create bioprinted patches that can be easily attached to specific organs for better drug administration. The patches can also be used in nanotechnology and biotechnology.   The new 3D printer comes with dual extruders that are attached to a motor and movable support. As the motor rotates, a contraption moves up and down in order to control the plunger of the syringe. A silicone tube is found at the end of each syringe that carries the liquid directly to the head. With this new technology, this new printer head will definitely revolutionize 3D medical printing in the future.

Paige Anne Carter

Paige Anne Carter

 

Researchers Develop 3D-Printing Technique to Make Realistic Ears

An otolaryngology resident and bioengeneering student at the University of Washington have teamed up to create a low-cost cartilage model for surgical practice using 3D printing. The innovation will allow surgeons to perfect the construction of realistic ears.   Surgeons approach the task of fixing a missing or underdeveloped ear by harvesting rib cartilage from the child and carving it into the shape of an ear. The rib cartilage is limited, and surgeons try to harvest as little as possible.

Because of the nature of the procedure, surgical residents are unable to practice the procedure on authentic material. Normally, surgical residents use a bar of soap, a carrot or an apple to practice complicated procedures like making a new ear for children. Some are able to use cadaver or pig rib cartilage as a substitute, but they don’t match the size or consistency of children's.  This new method of 3D printing cartilage is a low cost alternative that offers the most authentic model to practice on to date.   Working in the UW BioRobotics Lab under electrical engineering professor Blake Hannaford, the researchers described the development in an abstract at the American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery conference held in Dallas this week.

“It’s a huge advantage over what we’re using today,” said Angelique Berens, a UW School of Medicine otolaryngology — head and neck surgery resident, who was lead author on the abstract. “You literally take a bar of Lever 2000 while the attending is operating and you carve ear cartilage. It does teach you how to get the shape right, but the properties are not super accurate — you can’t bend it, and sewing it is not very lifelike.”  The study included three seasoned surgeons who practiced carving, bending and suturing with the researchers’ silicone models. The models were created with a 3D printed mold and a CT scan of an 8-year-old with a malformed ear. The researchers compared the models for firmness, feel and suturing compared to other practice materials. All three surgeons preferred the UW models.   A lack of realistic training models limits many surgeons, making it difficult for them to become comfortable executing delicate and complicated procedures, said Kathleen Sie, a UW Medicine professor of otolaryngology and director of head and neck surgery at the Childhood Communication Center at Seattle.

Because so few surgeons are properly trained, children in need of ear reconstruction must wait 6 to 12 months at Seattle Children’s Hospital.  “It’s a surgery that more people could do, but this is often the single biggest roadblock,” said Sie. “They’re hesitant to start because they’ve never carved an ear before. As many potatoes and apples as I’ve carved, it’s still not the same.”   The 3D printed material is also advantageous because it’s printed from a CT scan, so it will mimic the unique anatomy of the patient. Now, even experienced surgeons will have the opportunity to practice the complicated procedures on material specific to the patient.   Photos via University of Washington

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Researchers Made 3D Printed Braces For Scoliotic Patients

3D printing has become an indispensable tool in the medical industry. It has encompassed numerous applications from creating simple customized medical tools, surgical models, implants, to orthopedic casts.   This technology continues to expand as researchers develop many intriguing yet effective devices using a simple 3D printer. One such innovation introduced to the world recently was the 3D printed braces intended for patients with scoliosis.   3D Systems, the South Carolina-based company, released their prototype for back braces to correct the abnormal curvature of the spine among patients with severe scoliosis. The braces are customized to fit the shape of the patient’s body. The braces also have corrective features so that patients can be comfortable but experience improvement while wearing the braces.   This technology was adopted by Chinese medical researchers from the National Rehabilitation Aids Research in Beijing to treat patients suffering from mild to moderate scoliosis. The Chinese researchers worked with orthopedic surgeons from Germany led by Dr. Hans-Rudolf Weiss. Conventional braces are very difficult to wear as they are chunky and provide a lot of discomfort to patients. Moreover, it is also embarrassing for most people to wear conventional braces because they look like alien contraptions stuck in their bodies.   The researchers developed customizable braces that slimly fit the body of patients and it comes with a lot of patterns to improve the air flow thus decreasing discomfort and build up of heat. The new braces are made from thermoplastics thus they are very light but strong enough to support and re-align the problematic back. This innovation will surely help a lot of patients suffering from scoliosis all over the world.

Paige Anne Carter

Paige Anne Carter

 

Creating a 3D Printable Skull from a CT Scan in 5 Minutes using Freeware.

UPDATED TUTORIAL: A Ridiculously Easily Way to Convert CT Scans to 3D Printable Bone STL Models for Free in Minutes   Hello and welcome back. I hope you enjoyed my last tutorial on creating 3D printable medical models using free software on Macintosh computers. In this brief video tutorial I'll show you how to create a 3D printable skull STL file from a CT scan in FIVE minutes using only free and open source software. In the video I use a program called 3D Slicer, which is available from slicer.org. 3D Slicer works on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux operating systems. Also, I use Blender, which is available from blender.org, to perform some mesh cleanup. Finally, I check my model prior to 3D printing using Meshmixer from Autodesk. This is available at meshmixer.com. All software programs are free.   If you like this, view my complete tutorial where I go through each step shown here in detail. I hope you enjoy the video.    

Dr. Mike

Dr. Mike

 

Researchers Develop A Better Bio-Ink For 3D Printing

The 3D printing technology provides the medical industry with viable solutions for complicated medical procedures. Today, 3D printing is no longer used in creating prosthetics but also in synthetically creating natural-occurring cells and tissues.   Fabricating cells and tissues using 3D printing technology is a complex method. However, researchers were able to create breast cancer tissues and gland tissues to study disease progression and also drug testing. The key to the success of printing cells and tissues lies on Bio-Ink which is a material that serves as the structural scaffold for the tissues.   While the current bio-ink used in 3D bioprinting is already effective, researchers want to improve this technology further. Recently, a study published in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering demonstrated the new material for bioprinting. Called Polyol-Silk Bioink, it uses silk solutions called non-toxic polyols (sugar alcohol) in creating self-curing features that allow structural support and less processing. With this new material, tissue engineering will be less complicated.   Developed by David L. Kaplan and his team of researchers from the Biomedical Engineering Department of Tufts University, the new silk biogel is clear as well as flexible. It is also stable in water and superior to other materials like gelatin, collagen, and silicone. This material can also withstand high temperature and pH changes.   This latest bio-ink provides a possible answer to solving the many challenges encountered in the bioprinting arena. With this new innovation, it is now possible for researchers to create tissues faster and more stable than conventional methods.

Paige Anne Carter

Paige Anne Carter

 

MIT Researchers Use MRI Scans to 3D Print Heart Models in Hours

Researchers at MIT and Boston Children’s Hospital have created a method to use MRI scans and print physical models of an organ in only a few hours. While 3D printing organ models is not a new technology, the speed of the new method means that surgeons can use the models to plan delicate and time-sensitive surgeries.   The system involves a unique computer algorithm that increases the precision of MRI scans by 10. MIT researchers partnered with Boston Children’s Hospital physicist Medhi Moghari, who created the modeling system, and Andrew Powell, a cardiologist who oversaw clinical work for the project. The team successfully printed a heart model from an MRI, using 10 different patients to test how effective the 3D printed models were.

The team hopes that the models can be used for educational purposes, diagnosing conditions, and helping doctors prepare for surgeries.  “Our collaborators are convinced that this will make a difference,” said leader of the project Polina Golland, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT. “The phrase I heard is that ‘surgeons see with their hands,’ that the perception is in the touch.”   Prior to this technology, models were printed by manually defining the organ’s boundaries within the MRI scan. The method called for 200 cross sections to ensure precision, and took up to 10 hours to complete.   This study aimed to evaluate the validity of different methods of converting MRI scans to 3D models. Using a computer to define boundaries between different parts of an organ can be problematic, as the distinction between light and dark areas on the MRI scan might not always line up with the actual edges of the anatomical structure.

The researchers found the best results came when using a human expert to pinpoint one-ninth of the boundaries in each of the MRI’s cross sections. After 14 patches, the computer algorithm could infer the remainder of the boundaries with 90% precision for 200 cross sections. Experts who pinpointed all of the boundaries by hand only managed 80% precision.  "I think that if somebody told me that I could segment the whole heart from eight slices out of 200, I would not have believed them," Golland said. "It was a surprise to us.”   Using a combined human expert and computer algorithm to segment sample boundaries takes about one hour, while actually printing the 3D heart takes two more hours.   Next, cardiac surgeons with Boston’s Children’s Hospital will conduct a study to evaluate how useful the models are for medical practice. If the model hearts prove helpful, then 3D printing other organs from MRIs using this method will follow.   Photo Credits:   MIT and Bryce Vickmark

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3D Printing Creates Techniques To Regenerate Nerves

As 3D printing technology has gained traction in the medical field, researchers were able to use the said technology to develop groundbreaking techniques to regenerate nerves for both motor and sensory functions.
Regenerating nerves is a complicated process thus people with injuries involving nerves suffer from permanent damage. With the new technique, scientists hope to help more than hundreds of thousands of patients suffering from nerve diseases.   To regenerate nerves using the 3D printing technology, researchers used 3D imaging to create custom silicone guides that are implanted with biochemical compounds to encourage regeneration of complex nerves. The silicone guides were first tested in laboratory rats and scientists were able to regenerate the Y-shaped sciatic nerve with motor and sensory branches. Within 10 to 12 weeks, the rats were able to walk again.   Professor Michael McAlpine from the Mechanical Engineering Department of the University of Minnesota noted that this technology can be used to regenerate nerve tissues among human patients in the future.   He also added that a library of scanned nerves should also be created for nerves that are unavailable for scanning. This is very important among patients whose nerves are difficult to scan due to extensive or increasing damage. With the library of scanned nerves available to the medical researchers, hospitals can create matched 3D printed guides for patients.   3D printing technology provides a lot of innovations in the field of medicine and with the newly developed technology, people suffering from nerve damage can now become hopeful that they can once again improve the quality of their lives.

Paige Anne Carter

Paige Anne Carter

 

Cancer Patient Receives World’s First 3D-Printed Rib Cage

A 54-year-old man from Spain was diagnosed with a chest wall sarcoma, a type of cancer where a tumor grows in or on the rib cage. He had no choice but to have a portion of his ribcage removed, including his sternum. In a world-first, the man has had the missing pieces successfully replaced with a 3D-printed prosthetic.   The man’s doctors could have gone a traditional route to create a prosthetic rib cage for him. But traditional implants were risky because they could become loose as time passed, making it likely that the man would suffer complications and need additional operations. That’s why 3D printing became the most promising option. A 3D printed implant would be the most precise replica of the size and shape of the man’s ribcage.   The surgeons at the Salamanca University Hospital in Spain decided to contact CSIRO, a medical device company in Australia. They provided them with a computer tomography scan of the man’s chest so they could create an implant that most accurately matched the missing parts of his ribcage.   In an interview with ABC, the Alex Kingsbury, Manufacturing Research Leader at CSIRO, said, “3D-printing was the most desirable method because the implant needed to be customized to the patient. No human body is the same.”  
"We thought, maybe we could create a new type of implant that we could fully customize to replicate the intricate structures of the sternum and ribs," Dr. Jose Aranda, a surgeon on the team, said in a press release. "We wanted to provide a safer option for our patient, and improve their recovery post-surgery.”     The designers at CSIRO successfully created pieces to replace both his sternum and part of his ribs. After surgery, the man spent only 12 days in the hospital before feeling fit to go home.   "The operation was very successful. Thanks to 3D printing technology and a unique resection template, we were able to create a body part that was fully customised and fitted like a glove," Dr. Aranda added.   The titanium ribcage is just another addition to the growing list of 3D printed prosthetics and implants being developed around the world, including knee, skull and jaw parts, vertebra and skin grafts.   While CSIRO designed the rib cage in Australia, fed the design into a 3D printer, and sent the finished product to Spain, there’s hope that hospitals of the future will be equipped enough to do at least part of these tasks on their own.   According to Dr. Mia Woodruff of QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation and Leader of the Biomaterals and Tissue Morpohography Group, “Our hospital of the future, from our point of view, is going to have the patient go into hospital, you scan them and immediately next to that operating table you can print them that scaffold.”   Media Credits:
CSIRO

cdmalcom

cdmalcom

 

Scientists Create 3D Printed Human Tissue for Cancer Research

Cancer research is very important in helping many people who are battling with cancer. However, the difficulty with cancer research is that it is challenging to test drugs while using live human tissues. A recent breakthrough done by the University of San Francisco had led to the development of a new technique called DNA Programmed Assembly of Cells.   Postdoctoral fellow Alex Hughes explained that the technique is all about creating biological equivalents of the LEGO bricks which can grow cells even in a simple petri dish. The 3D bioprinted cells can be used to study cancer drug screening. Medical researchers can build models of mammary glands to study the progression of cancer cells on human breasts.   Unlike organoids, the 3D bioprinted human cells can be programmed into any cell type based on the spatial and environmental cues applied on it. It can also be used to create 3D printed organs in the future. If the technique can be perfected, it can be used to create thousands of cells within hours. The team behind this innovation relies on DNA to engineer the human tissues. The 3D printing of the cells occur in layers and with each layer, it is designed to stick to its cell partners.   This is a promising technology that can pave the way for many developments in cancer research as well as synthetic organ production. Researchers hope that they can use the technology in the future to study more complex cellular structures and network in the hopes of fully understanding the human body.

Paige Anne Carter

Paige Anne Carter

 

New Software Creates Innovative 3D Printed Implants

3D printing has taken the medical industry by storm through the provision of various opportunities for innovation, thus improving the quality of implants. The 3D printing company, Autodesk, created the generative design software featuring 600 innovative implants from the micro-lattice porous structures to bioprinted blood vessels.   Senior director of design research, Mark Davis, said that the software uses different pore size configurations to help porous implant integrate properly with the injured bone. The software also optimizes the 3D printing process from electron beam melting ad direct metal laser sintering for accuracy and precision in making the implants.   Doctors and other medical professionals now have a powerful tool in treating patients suffering from conditions that are usually difficult to treat using conventional methods. Aside from the innovative implants from Autodesk’s Within Medical structure, the company can also collaborate from other institutions to create different titanium implants that are flexible and comfortable for the patients.   The new tool offers different innovations such as porous random latticing, rough lattice surfaces, conformal lattices, and variable lattice density which are all developed in order to make the implants more effective, fast-acting, and comfortable.   Aside from improving the technology of 3D bioprinting, Autodesk’s Within Medical makes it easy for people to achieve individualized and customized treatment. It has contributed immensely to changing the ways of 3D bioprinting in terms of design and manufacturing of implants. It is a good tool that will standardize the implants of the future thus making them more biologically compatible and smart.

Paige Anne Carter

Paige Anne Carter

 

3D Printer Creates Solar Powered Doctor’s Bag

3D printing is not only used in creating implants in the medical industry, but it is now also being used to develop interesting devices that can help doctors improve their practice. Recently, Harvard-educated physician and innovator Dr. Julielynn Wong created an innovative solar powered bag using 3D printing.   The purpose of her innovative bag is to help doctors assigned in underprivileged areas. She created 3D printed diagnostic devices used for testing malaria and water potability. She noted that one billion people in the world lack access to electricity and simple medical items are expensive and usually take weeks or months to arrive. With her innovative bag, Dr. Wong hopes that doctors will be able to help save more lives even if they are assigned in remote places.   The current prototype has three test designs and it is made up of six solar panels with a 3-3-2 configuration, voltage regulator or power adapter and two 12-volt batteries in series with a small 3D printer. This allows doctors to create new tools in case their bag does not contain the usual tools that they don’t have in their bag.   It is interesting to take note that Dr. Wong created this bag not only to be used by doctors assigned in remote areas in the planet but it was primarily created to be used in space exploration. In fact, its details were released in the Aerospace Medicine Human Performance journal this year. With this new tool, doctors will be able to perform well in various settings they may find themselves in.

Paige Anne Carter

Paige Anne Carter

 

Researchers Developed First Ever 3D Bioprinted Neural Tissues

Little is understood about the human brain and this is the reason why neuroscientists rely heavily on the in vitro brain tissue samples from animals to understand the human brain. However, it is important to take note that animal brain tissues are entirely different from ours and if we do drug testing on the former, the effects could be catastrophic for us. Unfortunately, the brain has more than 86 billion nerve cells thus leaving a large gray area for scientists.   Recently, researchers from the ARC Center of Excellence for Electromaterials Science in Australia created the first ever 3D bioprinted structure that uses brain (neural) cells in order to mimic the structure of the brain tissues. This new breakthrough makes it very easy for scientists to study the brain and also treat different conditions like Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia.   To create the tissues, the researchers developed a bio-ink that contains immature cortical neurons that are encapsulated by a carbohydrate-based material made from gellan gum polymer hydrogel. This base material allows cell dispersion but it also provides protection to the neural cells. The material is delivered using a handheld 3D printer. A total of six layers were created to mimic the brain tissues.   Professor Gordon Wallace, the AES Director, explained that perfecting the technology still has a long way to go but the team is hopeful that the research will pave a way for the use of highly sophisticated printers in the future in order to create structures with better resolution to help treat different diseases.

Paige Anne Carter

Paige Anne Carter

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