3D printers are helping surgeons create custom cranial implants

3D printers are helping surgeons create custom cranial implants

April 26, 2024
Now I know that if I suffer a severe injury, especially to my skull, all I really need is a 3D printer.

Now that I’m in my 40s, I’m more acutely aware of the inherent risk of injury in normal, everyday activities. I’ve donated all my shoes with heels higher than three inches. I’ve never been a coordinated person, and a sky-high heel with a platform to match just seems like I’m asking for a broken ankle or two. Last year, I went roller skating for the first time in decades. It took me 30 minutes before I was comfortable enough to let go of the wall, and with each lap, I silently hoped to leave the rink without a bruise, sprain, or broken bone. Luckily, now I know that if I suffer a severe injury, especially to my skull, all I really need is a 3D printer. Laura Davis, the editor in chief of New Equipment Digest, recently reported on 3D Systems, an additive manufacturing company that uses medical-grade PEEK materials to 3D print craniums for cranial reconstruction.

Below is an excerpt from her blog post:

The VSP PEEK Cranial Implant is the first FDA-cleared, additively manufactured PEEK implant intended for cranioplasty procedures to restore defects in the skull. The implant includes a complete FDA-cleared workflow that uses segmentation and 3D modeling software, the 3D Systems EXT 220 MED 3D printer, and Evonik VESTAKEEP i4 3DF PEEK (polyetheretherketone).

The printer provides a self-contained cleanroom environment and a simple post-processing workflow to produce patient-specific medical devices at hospitals with faster turnaround while using up to 85% less material than implants produced by traditional machining, lowering costs. This solution has already been used in nearly 40 cranioplasties across Europe in the past few months including at University Hospital Basel in Switzerland, Salzburg University Hospital in Austria, and Tel-Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Israel.

Read the entire blog post

The Lighter Side of Manufacturing

Created by the editors of Plant Services and New Equipment Digest, The Lighter Side of Manufacturing is a feel-good blog that showcases how advances in science, math, engineering, and technology are making our world more whimsical. Here’s another post that is guaranteed to brighten your day.

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