Dubai hospitals access 3D printing for healthcare and surgery
Ignacio Tovar is a founding partner of Steed, a small innovation consultancy based in Mexico City and organizer of the futurologi event series. He is currently studying a MSc in Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Management at Imperial College, London. Ignacio is interested in the development of social, economic, design and technology trends as they shape the future.
Starting in 2017, hospitals in Dubai will introduce 3D printers to prepare surgeons for medical procedures: according to a senior health officer in the country. This move will allow the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) managed facilities to generate realistic representations of the anatomical area that will undergo surgical procedures. 3D printing will part an important role preparing medical teams before heading to the operating room. The DHA aims to accelerate the surgeries, cutting costs and risks in the process while helping patients understand the procedures they will be involved in.
“Our 3D printing programme is aligned to the 3D printing strategy initiated by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.” Dr. Mohammad Al Redha told Gulf News. Dr. Al Redha serves as director of the Department of Organisational Transformation (OT). “This strategy will add speed to medical procedures, save costs and help doctors in pre-operative stage to plan complicated surgeries.” he added.
3D printed organ models. Image via DHA
3D printing replica bodies
A similar technique was recently used by the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK at Guy’s Hospital, London where a patient with cancer had a replica of his prostate 3D printed in order to map out the location of the tumour adequately. The surgeons managed to correctly remove the tumour, facilitated by having a better reference system with which to compare what was happening inside the patient’s body as the procedure was taking place.
This latest effort, on behalf of the DHA, to use advanced manufacturing technology as part of the pre-planning surgical process is another example of the country’s ambitious vision to use 3D printing across numerous industries. As previously reported Dubai plan to increase the use of the technology in areas such as construction and consumer products. Their other plans include expanding the use of other materials such as ceramics and metals in order to use the manufactured pieces as implants for dental pieces and joints.
Bio-inks from stem cells?
“Technology changes very fast and very soon we might be using actual bone or cartilage from a patient, growing it and using it as basic material with stem cells as bio ink to print an actual ear or any other organ. That scenario is the stuff of science fiction but very soon this is going to be a reality with the success of 3D printing.” commented Dr. Shatha Saif, a DHA officer.
Efforts to bring 3D printing and additive technology into a medical context are crucial to the growth of the industry as they provide an excellent scenario where high degrees of customization and short manufacturing times are needed. You can read more about advances in the medical sector here.
3D printing or Additive manufacturing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes. 3D printing is also considered distinct from traditional machining techniques, which mostly rely on the removal of material by methods such as cutting or drilling (subtractive processes).
A 3D printer is a limited type of industrial robot that is capable of carrying out an additive process under computer control.
While 3D printing technology has been around since the 1980s, it was not until the early 2010s that the printers became widely available commercially. The first working 3D printer was created in 1984 by Chuck Hull of 3D Systems Corp. Since the start of the 21st century there has been a large growth in the sales of these machines, and their price has dropped substantially. According to Wohlers Associates, a consultancy, the market for 3D printers and services was worth $2.2 billion worldwide in 2012, up 29% from 2011.[
The 3D printing technology is used for both prototyping and distributed manufacturing with applications in architecture, construction (AEC), industrial design, automotive, aerospace, military, engineering, civil engineering, dental and medical industries, biotech (human tissue replacement), fashion, footwear, jewelry, eyewear, education, geographic information systems, food, and many other fields. One study has found that open source 3D printing could become a mass market item because domestic 3D printers can offset their capital costs by enabling consumers to avoid costs associated with purchasing common household objects.
3D Printable Models
3D printable models may be created with a computer aided design package or via 3D scanner. The manual modeling process of preparing geometric data for 3D computer graphics is similar to plastic arts such as sculpting. 3D scanning is a process of analyzing and collecting data of real object; its shape and appearance and builds digital, three dimensional models.