After the successful implementation of additive manufacturing (AM) in aerospace, medical 3D printing has been leading the charge for adoption for a number of applications. Among the most accessible is the 3D printing of medical models for diagnosis, education and presurgical planning. The latest firm to enable this use is RIZE, Inc., which announced that its full-color desktop 3D printer, XRIZE, is compatible with an FDA 510(k)-cleared software called Simpleware, developed by Synopsys.
Simpleware has been cleared for making models based on medical imaging that can then be 3D printed on compatible printers, such as XRIZE. These 3D printed replicas can then be used for diagnosis in orthopedic, maxillofacial, and cardiovascular medicine. In the clearance process, Synopsys validated an end-to-end workflow in which DICOM data was used to generate a 3D printed model on an XRIZE 3D printer, opening up the possibility for 3D printing related point-of-care (POC) solutions for hospitals and clinics.
“3D printing is becoming increasingly important in surgery, and the use of 3D printed models has been shown to increase our understanding of musculoskeletal diseases,” said Professor Alister Hart MD, orthopedic surgeon, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, UK. “We’re excited to work with RIZE’s 3D printing platform along with the Simpleware™ software solutions for image segmentation. Many aspects of surgical planning can benefit from 3D models – for example, to illustrate the distribution of bone density at various depths in the bone and to assist in positioning and screw placement. We are eager to explore this fast-moving technology domain and to quantify and understand its impact on patient and surgical outcomes.”
As we’ve covered on 3DPrint.com, the benefits of 3D printing for diagnosis, education and presurgical planning are now obvious. 3D printed, patient-specific models can provide insights that aren’t possible with computer visualization or standard MRI and CT images, resulting in a better understanding of patient anatomy and potentially more accurate diagnoses. These benefits can then be carried over to prepping for a surgery or teaching patients and medical students about disease and treatments.
For this reason, there is increased activity in this field, with other manufacturers of full-color 3D printers forming partnerships to provide 3D printed medical models to hospitals and clinics. This includes Stratasys, 3D Systems, and Ricoh, among others. RIZE, however, is perhaps the only maker of an office-friendly, full-color 3D printer now being used in these applications.
Synopsys Simpleware software can be used to take medical imaging data from MRIs and CT scans for such uses as visualization, measurement, and segmentation, which can then be used to 3D print models. This pairs well with the XRIZE 3D printer, which is already received a UL GREENGUARD certification, making it safe for use in offices and other indoor environments. The fact that parts made on RIZE systems require so little post-processing increases their user-friendliness even further.
“Our technology has a proven track record for processing 3D images and creating models for a wide variety of applications, said Terry Ma, VP of Engineering at Synopsys. “Adding regulatory clearance for point-of-care 3D printing enables our growth in the point-of-care clinical space, where Simpleware™ software and our team’s technical expertise will allow for better patient care and a faster workflow for medical professionals.”
Surely there will be room for many types of 3D printers in hospitals and clinics for these sorts of uses, but RIZE has the advantage of making a lower-cost, office-friendly, full-color machine. If there are going to 3D printers in an increasing number of POC locations, we may see RIZE machines representing a sizable fraction therein.