The expansion of medical 3D printing is happening in the American Midwest.

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The Small Town Revolutionizing Healthcare with 3D Printing

In the quiet town of Plymouth, Michigan, with a population of less than ten thousand, a revolutionary transformation is taking place. This Midwest region is pioneering the application of 3D printing in the field of medicine, thanks to the efforts of Materialise, an additive manufacturing company.

This past summer, Materialise expanded its North American offices in Plymouth by more than 16,000 square feet. The company incorporated 3D printers capable of making objects out of titanium powder. With headquarters in Belgium, Materialise offers a 3D printing service that provides different types of printers, either polymer or metal, which are used to develop 3D printed medical models.

Over the years, Materialise has made tremendous scientific advances in 3D printing technology. Its name has rapidly grown along with the expansion of its North American headquarters. The company has developed various medical applications, ranging from polymer-based dental plates to 3D printed titanium plates used for bone healing. Materialise has created thousands of models for implants, surgeries, and prototypes formed via scans and MRIs.

One of the most impressive aspects of Materialise’s work is the use of 3D printed surgical cutting aids. These aids help doctors precisely identify where to make cuts, reducing surgery times and improving mobility and posture correction. Patients also experience shorter recovery times thanks to the accurate implants provided by Materialise and similar companies.

One of the most remarkable aspects of 3D printing in medicine is the ability to personalize and edit components before printing. While many reports focus on the revolutionary advancements in 3D printing technology, it is crucial to highlight the tangible benefits patients experience from these life-saving medical components.

Bryan Crutchfield, vice president and general manager for Materialise North America, shares an extraordinary story that demonstrates the impact of 3D printing in the medical field. Materialise collaborated with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to model and remove a heart tumor from a pediatric patient named Brad. The tumor had been monitored for seven to eight years until it was deemed invasive enough for surgery. By creating a pliable model, Materialise enabled the doctors to prepare for the operation with a higher chance of success.

Interestingly, the model revealed that removing the tumor would leave insufficient tissue to reconstruct Brad’s heart. Instead of opting for invasive surgery, the doctors performed a thermal ablation procedure, thanks to the insights provided by the 3D model.

The benefits of 3D printed medical models extend beyond surgical planning. They also serve to educate patients and their families about the procedure. Additionally, medical students can view organs in perspective without having to rely solely on textbooks or computer simulations. As these models and prototypes continue to evolve, the next generation of doctors and surgeons will be equipped with an unprecedented level of accuracy, thanks to 3D modeling and printing technology.

Post-processing is a critical step in the production of all 3D printed objects, and it becomes even more crucial when applied to medical use. With Materialise leading the way, the possibilities for the future of healthcare are endless.

What are your thoughts on Materialise North America’s expansion? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below or on our LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages. Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly Newsletter here, bringing you the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox. You can also find all our videos on our YouTube channel.

*All Photo Credits: Eric Seals, Detroit Free Press*

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