GE Healthcare has recently announced a collaboration with the 3D printer provider Formlabs that will aim to make it easier for physicians to 3D print anatomy models for patients. These models are not a ‘one-size-fits-all’, but will rather be a unique, patient-specific model that is generated from imaging data. These customized models will allow the physician to show the patient a 3D representation of their own body and what potentially needs medical attention.
This partnership will offer radiologists who specialize in cardiology, oncology, orthopedics, neurology, and other fields a GE Healthcare/Formlabs bundle to create these unique anatomical models. This bundle includes Formlabs 3D printers and substrates and GE Healthcare’s Advantage Workstation (AW), the advanced visualization software used to prepare the 3D models for printing.
“When time is of the essence, GE Healthcare solutions help clinical imaging specialists get the diagnosis correct quickly and push the critical information they create into the hands of the broader care team,” explained R. Scott Rader, the general manager of GE Healthcare Additive Solutions. “The virtual reality renderings clinical imagers see every day in radiology reading rooms on AW can now be exported via AW 3D Suite in seconds, imported into Formlabs PreForm, and printed right at the site of care to add the sense of touch to what members of the care team see. This first step with Formlabs can help break down time and cost barriers to adoption of on-premises printing while empowering richer communication amongst care teams and their patients.”
Healthcare-Specific 3D Printed Models
Tailored specifically for the medical field, GE Healthcare’s AW advanced visualization tools are designed to help radiologists generate 3D models of both normal and unhealthy anatomy through automation techniques. AW uses a diagnostic workflow to facilitate what is typically a labor-intensive procedure of converting image data into files that are interpretable to a 3D printer. This approach could potentially reduce the time it takes to create certain files needed for 3D models from hours to minutes.
The AW software is compatible will all imaging techniques used in radiology, including CT, MR, PET, SPECT, and Interventional. Unifying these techniques yields over 55 clinical applications, which are presented on a user interface that can be viewed on a Workstation, RIS/PACS, laptop, or PC.
Leveraging Formlabs cutting-edge technology, such as the Form 3B 3D printer that launched in November 2019, GE Healthcare will use this collaboration to decrease the time and cost for physicians to produce intricate anatomical models in the clinical setting.
This package will also include Formlabs’ PreForm print preparation software alongside over 20 proprietary resins. This will enable biomedical engineers and radiologists to assist several surgical specialties.
Formlabs has plans to begin producing new biocompatible polymers as well, with the company recently acquiring Spectra Group Photopolymers, who has been Formlabs’ primary material supplier since 2012.
“This collaboration represents an important milestone for the medical 3D printing community and will hopefully serve as a catalyst for its growth. Our clinical customers should be able to serve more patients, more efficiently, with trusted, reliable, and intuitive technologies,” claimed Gaurav Manchanda, Formlabs’ Director of Healthcare.
Benefits of On-Site 3D Model Printing
The ability to 3D print patient-specific structures not only shows the patient their own complex anatomy, but it allows the physician to visualize the patient’s anatomy and pathology as well. This bolsters both the patient’s understanding of their body and condition and the physician’s comprehension of the patient’s unique anatomy. By doing so, this capability could reduce procedure time in the operating room by facilitating preoperative planning.
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