I once had a co-worker that told me being an engineer is a life-time of learning. I have often kept this at the back of my mind throughout my career and it has become very important in my role here at 3DVision Technologies. I may not know the answer to the problem, but I know where to look and who to ask when I need to. My role is to try to help potential customers integrate our technology, Additive Manufacturing specifically, into their current manufacturing processes. I see and hear about so many different applications and processes, it can sometimes be overwhelming.
From MRI data to 3D Printing
Last year I met Dr. Katz at one of our 3D Printing Open Houses hosted at our Cincinnati Headquarters. He was not an engineer, nor a designer, but wanted to use 3D Printing in his business to help his customers. Dr. Katz is in the medical field, specifically working with people born with a specific defect in their jaw bone (mandible) which causes the patient severe pain. They call this specialty Cranio-Maxillofacial (or CMF) Anaplastology (this is where that life of learning comes into play, including new words!). What Dr. Katz provided me was raw MRI data of a patients mandible. If we could help him print this bone, this in turn would help him build a prosthetic to alleviate a life of pain for this customer. GAME ON!
I have no medical training (aside from First Aide from several years on an emergency response team), so after a bit of research I turned to our friends at Materialise to see if they could help. Their Mimics Innovation Suite not only helped them with the Prosthetic design, but it also handles the raw MRI/CT Scan data for creating the STL file (a really great looking STL file!) The white skull was printed from Polycarbonate on our Fortus 450mc. In this case, this material was acceptable as we were only using it as a tool.
We could have also used an ISO certified (ISO 10993) Polycarbonate which is one of only (2) bio-compatible materials currently available in FDM. This would allow short term contact with skin, but was not a long term option (yet). The “frosted” skull was from VeroClear printed on our Objet 260 Connex 3. VeroClear is very similar in appearance to the Biocompatible material, MED610.
If you have any questions let me know in the comments section below!