University of Michigan medical residents use 3D printed surgical models to practice reconstructive …

Apr 12, 2017 | By Tess

Residents from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor have been using 3D printed surgical models and training tools to practice and hone their surgical skills in a hands-on way. The practice has reduced the need for human cadavers.

Cher Zhao, who is currently a resident at UM, took part in the innovative surgical simulations and was given the chance to practice reconstructive cartilage grafting using a 3D printed model made from a realistically textured material. The procedure, which involves cutting cartilage from the patient’s ribs to be used as grafts elsewhere in the body, relies on meticulous and exact carving. Having adequate training is therefore crucial.

Traditionally, surgical training required real bodies, whether in the form of actual patients, anaesthetized animals, or most commonly, human cadavers. As one can imagine, these are not only difficult and complicated to come by, but—in the case of cadavers—are also expensive to store and preserve. Lifelike 3D printed models, based on actual human anatomies, have provided a more than suitable alternative.

“3D printing is bringing a whole new meaning to hands-on experience for surgeons in training,” explained David Zopf, M.D., pediatric head and neck surgeon at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. “Hands-on experience is critical for acquiring and improving surgical skills, especially of new and complex procedures. This is an exciting tool that not only offers trainees exposure to opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have but that also allows them to demonstrate proficiency of skills before being performed on children.”

A recent article published in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, for which Zopf was a senior author, outlines the ways in which 3D printed surgical training models are beneficial, offering practical experience to trainees in a cost-efficient way. At the Mott Children’s Hospital, 3D printing has been used as a tool for nearly six years now, and its applications within the hospital are continuing to grow.

For instance, the technology is being used to make 3D printed splints, which have helped to save the lives of infants suffering from tracheobronchomalacia, a condition that causes the child’s windpipe to collapse, resulting in breathing difficulty. 3D printing has also been used to create models of fetuses, which have helped doctors prepare for tricky birthing situations, and even to make a replica of a patient’s skull to carefully plan a tumor removal operation.

Reconstructive cartilage grafting is the latest procedure that is benefitting from the use of 3D printed models. As Zopf commented: “Currently, a surgeon in training has scarce opportunity to carve cartilage graft for this type of procedure. We want to see if 3D printing can accelerate and enhance surgical training.”

Zhao was one of eighteen surgical trainees who participated in a UM otolaryngology head and neck surgery dissection course last year, which involved a 3D printed model of a human cartilage graft. The 3D printed model was based off a CT scan of a young patient’s rib, and was used as a mold to make cornstarch and silicone based models (which have a more realistic texture).

According to the trainees, the course offered them valuable insight and helped to advance their surgical skills. As Zhao said: “You only get one chance to carve a harvested graft from a patient’s rib, so you have to do it perfectly the first time. It takes years of practice to learn the technical skills to do it. This was a very realistic experience and what’s great is you can keep printing dozens of these models at a time so you can practice over and over again.”

Posted in 3D Printing Application

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3D printed Sentinel robot could increase traffic safety for police officers

Apr 2, 2017 | By Julia

Two students at Duke University have designed a 3D printed robot that could help police officers carry out routine traffic stops. A long way from RoboCop, “Sentinel,” as the robot has been named, was created by Chris Reyes and Vaibhav Tadepalli in response to several violent altercations between police and motorists.

“In July last year, there were two specific instances that really pushed us to develop this device,” said Tadepalli. “On July 6, [motorist] Philando Castile was shot [by police] during a traffic stop in front of his girlfriend and four-year-old daughter. Then, two days later, officer Michael Flamion was shot as he approached a vehicle during another traffic stop.”

The two students agreed that there must be a solution to what is becoming an ongoing problem. There needs to be a safer alternative that allows everyone to walk away alive, Tadepalli said.

In response, Reyes and Tadepalli began drafting plans for Sentinel, a four-wheeled, camera- and sensor-equipped robot 3D printed in Duke’s Innovation Co-Lab. The pair’s central use of 3D printing has allowed them to quickly prototype new versions of Sentinel – the robot is currently on its fifth iteration – while keeping costs down. Whereas other police robots cost at least $20,000 USD, Reyes and Tadepalli claim they would be able to market Sentinel for only about $10,000.

The premise is fairly simple: an officer located near a traffic stop presses a button on the police vehicle’s central console to deploy the Sentinel robot, which would approach the stopped car in question. As the robot moves toward the vehicle, it would raise a video display serving as a two way communication between the officer and the driver, almost like a Skype call.

Officers would have a 180 degree view into the vehicle, allowing them to scan license plates, and inspect drivers’ licenses and IDs, which would be scanned remotely from their own police vehicle. The Sentinel robot is also equipped to perform breathalyzer and THC tests.

Reyes and Tadepalli have stressed that the robot is intended for information collection and communication purposes only, and does not have the capacity to make decisions on its own. Even though the Sentinel robot has the computer intelligence to issue tickets digitally, the Duke students emphasize that it would not substitute police officers themselves; rather, the robot would simply act as a buffer to keep both law enforcement and civilians safe.

“We’re not trying to take a job away, we just want to make it easier and safer for the person who does that job,” Reyes told press.

While Sentinel would be a huge advantage to police forces’ overall safety, the question of how motorists’ own rights would be impacted remains somewhat open. The two makers are clear that their robot would not carry any weapons, however, a modular design would allow police agencies to modify the Sentinel to their specific needs.

How the robot advances in this regard would be critical, given the increasing problem of police brutality cases in North America.

For now, the Sentinel robot is still undergoing simulation testing, and is currently sourcing funding from Duke grants and an ongoing Indiegogo campaign. Reyes says he hopes to begin field-testing over the next several months.

“We’re passionate about this particular product because we see that if we can get it deployed, we can save lives,” Tadepalli said.

The robot is expected to be fully developed and ready for implementation in police departments by January 2018.

Posted in 3D Printing Application

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Could Washington state be getting a full-scale 3D printed replica of Dracula's castle?

Mar 3, 2017 | By Tess

Mike Draghici, a software engineer of Romanian origin, is hoping to build a full-scale replica of Romania’s famous Bran Castle (often associated with Dracula) on his Washington estate with the help of 3D printing. Draghici has teamed up with Minnesota-based engineer Andrey Rudenko, the man behind the Rudenko 3D concrete house printer, to bring the castle to life.

The ambitious project is trying to raise funds ($1 million to be exact) through a Kickstarter campaign to get the plans and building in motion. Obviously, 3D printing a full-size castle is no easy feat, so Draghici is also seeking out investors, engineers, inventors, builders, carpenters, and more to partner with him.

Draghici’s 40-acre estate, located in Washington’s wine country, is called “Vampire Hills,” a nod to his Romanian heritage. (Dracula fans will know that, while the tale was written by Irish author Bram Stoker, the famous fictional vampire is from Transylvania, a region now located in central Romania.) By 3D printing a replica of the famous Bran Castle on his estate, the software engineer is aiming to one day open a luxury estate winery that will host events and cater to upscale guests.

According to Draghici, he was able to get his hands on plans for the Bran Castle from Romanian relatives, and his team has already created the digital 3D models of the castle, bringing him one step closer to realizing his goals. Significant challenges remain, however, namely the funding for the project. As of writing, the Kickstarter campaign has only raised $8.66. It seems likely that funding for the 3D printed castle might have to come from other sources, such as deep-pocketed investors.

The real Bran Castle in Romania

The 3D printing technology for the castle will come from Andrey Rudenko, an innovator and maker who we’ve written about numerous times. Rudenko first came onto our radar in 2014 with a project that is still impressive by today’s standards of 3D printed construction. Readers will likely remember his 3D printed backyard castle that was made using a modified 3D printer Rudenko himself built. The castle, which measures 3 x 5 meters, is featured on our list of top 3D printed housing and construction projects.

Andrey Rudenko’s 3D printed backyard castle

Since then, Rudenko has also spoken about his plans to build a full-sized, fantasy-inspired 3D printed village, and teamed up with the Lewis Grand Hotel in the Philippines to develop the world’s first 3D printed hotel. On February 16 of this year, Rudenko announced that his most recent concrete 3D printer, the Stroybot2, was complete and is a “a more advanced, faster, lighter, and user-friendly 3D Concrete Printing machine.”

If the funding and land approvals come through for Draghici’s 3D printed Romanian-style castle, there is no doubt that Rudenko and his Stroybot2 3D printer will be on board to help build it. Naturally, it might be years before the 3D printed castle even breaks ground, though we do hope it comes to fruition.

Posted in 3D Printing Application

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Reports: Disney acquires 'world's first 3D printed toy' company MakieLab

Feb 22, 2017 | By Benedict

MakieLab, a UK-based company that had made custom 3D printed dolls since 2012, has reportedly been acquired by Disney. MakieLab has history with the US entertainment giant, having been part of the Disney Accelerator startup scheme in 2015.

Having raised significant funding for its 3D printed dolls as far back as 2012, formerly London-based MakieLabs was always somewhat ahead of the curve, anticipating the desktop 3D printer explosion of 2014, the craze for 3D printed toys and avatars in the gaming industry, and the growing tendency for famous toy brands to embrace 3D printing. That being said, it appears that MakieLabs is now taking a step back from the unpredictability of the 3D printing industry, ceasing all current operations. Fortunately for lovers of 3D printed “Makies” dolls, an unnamed company described only as “a fantastic US media behemoth” has acquired MakieLab. Reports suggest that the behemoth in question is Disney.

According to TechCrunch, Disney actually acquired MakieLab’s technology and assets sometime last year, so the recently announced closure of MakieLab as an independent business strongly signals that Disney is the new owner of the 3D printed toy maker. Prior even to Disney’s acquisition of MakieLab’s intellectual property, the UK startup had been inducted into the 2015 Disney Accelerator startup scheme, along with nine other promising tech ventures that included 3Ders favorite Open Bionics, a 3D printed prosthetics company. MakieLab had partially relocated to the US upon joining the accelerator program.

It is not yet clear how Disney intends to use MakieLab technology, though it is easy to see the appeal of customizable, 3D printed, Disney-branded dolls. Taking MakieLab’s proven formula and applying it to the unstoppable Disney brand could therefore make a lot of sense for the entertainment giant, though it is interesting to consider how the company will reconcile its strongly character-focused merchandising with the make-your-own philosophy of MakieLab.

“Makies technology and platform has been successfully acquired by a fantastic U.S. media behemoth, who we hope will do something wonderful with it very soon,” MakieLab wrote on its Facebook page on February 18. “We tried to continue on the Makies world-takeover independently, but the dream had to end, for all sorts of 2016—ewww—reasons. We hope our new owner can achieve what we couldn’t on our own for you.”

In what could well be a nod to the now-Disney-owned Star Wars franchise, MakieLab added: “Thank you, new owner, you are our only hope!”

Several MakieLab customers posted messages of appreciation and gratitude for the company in the comments section below the announcement.

Posted in 3D Printer Company

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