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3D-Printing, what is it?

3D-printing is a form of additive manufacturing where a layer upon layer of some sort of media is constructed on itself. Think of it like an inkjet printer but instead of rows on a paper it prints layers of ink to form an object.

Healthcare aids

There are numerous different aids people use to care for their health from toothbrushes to shoehorns to walkers and wheelchairs and specialist chairs, for example. While easy to produce things like toothbrushes are cheap the more tasking ones like a scoliosis braces are not as they are fully bespoke for the user.

Currently our most important customer is Peacocks (https://www.peacocks.net) from UK and we’ve created a system to automatically create bespoke insoles for them. Naturally similar things can be done for other things too, like braces and durable casts.

Benefits

The benefit of 3D-printing is that the tools and aids are created faster than handcrafted ones and since the original model in a file it can be recreated at any time. The product can also be easily modified later on or even printed in a different media. Naturally the 3D-scanning equipment is something that usually is used to create perfect models, especially when healthcare aids are concerned. This is where Versoteq can be of especially great service as we offer products that help your company with automatic 3D design and customization of products. This enables you to have near push-button 3D-scanning and printing, among other things.

Braces

There are a few different types of braces, but let’s cover orthodontic ones first. There are quite a few ways to do these and some enterprising people have made these themselves, however this is dangerous and thus I won’t show it here. Now for the braces. The newest seems to be the prototype at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology where 3D-printed braces have been mated with near infrared therapy device. The creation of such things is still very involved, however it is easier to mass customize other braces.

Scoliosis braces

Scoliosis, the bending of the spine, is a difficult thing to live with. It will eventually, if not tended to, destroy the spine and while developing it is painful and will make moving and even sitting or lying down uncomfortable if not even painful. The company called UNYQ has 3D printed scoliosis braces that seem to both work and as importantly are comfortable and do not restrict movement.

Other braces or guards

Naturally other types can be made too, from knee braces to arm braces or neck, etc. However, you have to always think of the possible costs labor and thus a short-term brace might not be the financially wise, even if the bespoke versions were far more comfortable. As a personal note, I adore Jake Evill’s 3D-printed cast concept. I have had to wear casts on multiple occasions and some have been worn for over six weeks. This has led to infections and frankly extremely miserable time. I for one am an advocate for patient comfort and safety, thus the Cortex cast is a huge leap forwards in healthcare aids. https://www.dezeen.com/2013/06/28/cortex-3d-printed-cast-for-bone-fractu...

Interestingly the concept of a cast or brace can be modified slightly and made into a sports equipment. Again, this would allow for lighter guards as well as more movement in the limbs. Depending on the printing compounds the guards, pads, etc. would be as durable and safe as standard ones if not even better.

Mobility

While mobility aids are usually considered their own category, I do consider them a direct healthcare aid. They allow us who are mobility impaired ability to get about, exercise, move, practice sports and so on. Thus, they directly impact our physical and mental health.

https://www.dezeen.com/2016/05/18/benjamin-hubert-layer-3d-printed-wheel...

Benjamin Hubert’s 3D printed wheelchair is an interesting and promising curiosity and I wish it well. While it does not suit my own needs, the chair itself is a clear indication of what can be done. It is also in production right now.

Conclusions

3D-printing and scanning offers new ways to create and design healthcare and mobility aids and more importantly it is an affordable way to even create one-off aids. However right now it is not cheap but it is still cost effective and allows near unlimited customization of designs and adaptability to any and all users. This adaptability is where Versoteq excels at, our greatest strength is our competence in mass customization and automating tedious and costly and laborious tasks.

For us who have to use aids 3D-printed ones are the future as they can be made specifically to each one of us.

Jaani's picture
02/24/2018 - 15:49
Jaani

Synopsis

I will talk about the upsurge of 3D-printed surgical tools, their benefits and possible problems as well as how we at Versoteq can help you get going easily. It is a rising industry that will cut costs while giving benefits through mass customization and raising patient safety.
What Is It?

As noted before in the blog (https://versoteq.com/blog/basics-medical-3d-printing) 3D-printing is a cost effective additive manufacturing style that can create almost anything within a few minutes to few hours. Almost anything can be printed from plastics to living tissue or bacteria. The tools made this way can be one-off and made specifically for each surgery or case and thus we remove the risk of transferring bacteria and virii. While these transferences are rare, nearly all hospitals and surgical units do suffer from outbreaks of MRSA and other such bacteria at times and because these bugs are extremely strong they are difficult to get rid of. While tools can be sanitized, sometimes the strains are too powerful. When you buy your tools new for each surgery the costs go up, however you can create the perfect tools for the job for lot less and this way perform the operations more easily and safer while cutting the costs the units will benefit.

Naturally surgical tools aren’t all the tools in healthcare. You can create dental tools but also splints, casts, wheelchairs and just about anything you need.

Surgical Tools

These tools are an emergent technology in this field while implants and medical models are quite common place. For example, Dr. Ignacio Díaz de Tuesta created many surgical tools that would not be able to be made with normal methods.

http://csp-world.com/news/20161205/002512/spanish-hospital-leverages-3d-...

These tools are plastic and can be either be disposed of or reused after sterilization.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00268-016-3814-5

Versoteq offers mass-customization and customization services and we love working with the people in the field.

Simulation Aids

For example University of Rochester has developed a surgical simulator (https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/4668/creating-the-model-human-...)

What this does is give the surgeons the ability to do dry runs before major and difficult operations, ability to train in realistic scenarios without putting the patients’ health at risk. This too, again, cuts costs as well as raises patient safety.

https://youtu.be/Ah7gJ4Vgr-w

At the same time, it revolutionizes medical schools. Because of my own medical history, I have a lot of experiences with surgeries, as a patient and as a subject of study. I would love to see this technology becoming prevalent in modern schools.
Implants

Like with the aids, we can help you create bespoke surgical implants from MRI and other sources. These implants will be near perfect and safe to use. As the industry stands now, most of the implants used are generic and because of this there can be problems with the surgery anywhere from fit and finish to unforeseen problems. When everything is bespoke and designed for only one person you can often bypass these problems and get the best results possible.

One of the frontrunners for this is Dr. Palutsis in Ohio.

https://3dprint.com/152990/3d-printed-knee-implants/

While these are all interesting, like with most all additive manufacturing processes the near future reads like science fiction though it is science fact already.

Future

Organ transplants are coming soon, from kidneys to hearts to anything conceivable can be done.

https://futurism.com/this-3d-printed-human-heart-can-do-everything-a-rea...

Nicholas Cohrs, leading a Swiss team, has created a working 3D-printed human heart that is fully functioning. Naturally it will need more time in development, but soon we will be able to forget the organ donor waiting lists and create fully functioning organs from the patient’s own DNA. This will help with the post procedural medicine regimens and will save money and more importantly lives. As we wait for this, please fill out an organ donor card and keep it with you. You will save lives.

Jaani's picture
01/16/2018 - 13:53
Jaani

Overview

In this article we take a general look at the medical printing from its origins to today and we also take a quick peek at the near future. This is a glance on the medical printing and starts a series of blogs where we take a closer look on medical 3D printing and its uses.

What is Medical 3D Printing?

While the words “medical 3D printing” elicits the ideas of Blade Runneresque, Terminatorish ideas of replicants and tissue covered battlefield endoskeletons in the end medical 3D printing is just 3D printing but for medical purposes from specialized tools and tooling to grafts like artificial skin, ear cartilage and bone grafts.

The idea is the exact same thing as the “run of the mill normal” 3D printing but using more specialized and exotic materials like collagen. At the same time what makes medical printing more difficult is the fact that the tissue created has to be able to live and the material expertise is perhaps the most important thing in the process.

Beginnings

Originally 3D printing was invented by Charles Hull, as stereolithography, in the early 1980s. Eventually the technology and procedures have come to revolutionize manufacturing and is about to revolutionize modern medicine.

It was soon realized that using 3D printing one can build and create almost anything if the resolution and the media used is evolved enough. So far we’ve seen simple things printed from plastics to stone in exacting architectural forms. We’ve seen simple objects to complete machines that work with the power of wind.

One of the defining aspects of humanity is that once someone creates the tools we are able to take those tools, those ideas, and apply them to just about anything and everything, we are able to take a concept and bring that concept to a whole new field of science and apply it there.

It is this ingeniousness that created the medical 3D printing. If one could create intricate pattern with plastics, stone and all those things one could easily enough change the paint, so to speak, into living cells and tissue and thus create 3D printed skin, bones, blood vessels and more.

Where we are

We will take a more serious look at the printable things later, however here is a quick and dirty rundown of where we are right now.

Right now, we are capable of printing quite many things, from veins to tissue, both synthetic and organic, as well as organs and valves. Similarly, the 3D printing doesn’t stop here, even though the biological printing is more media sexy. We can print custom drugs and medicines and we can also print with bacteria and other biomatter.

We can use 3D printing for tooling as well as guides. I, the writer, have had to go through radiation therapy and it was very arduous process to get fitted for the guides and the “tub” for targeting the radiation bombardment. With 3D scanning and printing the whole fitting would have been faster and more comfortable. Another interesting piece for 3D printing is being able to take 3D information from an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and from this data we can print models of tumors or organs. This allows doctors to train for surgeries as well as use “real” tumors in teaching, as well as show the patient what they’re talking about.

This leads to patient safety, comfort and expenses. 3D printing (and scanning) are technologies that are changing the world and eventually will more than revolutionize medical field. We are seeing the future starting to unfold right now.

The Future

As a technology enthusiast I find the present interesting enough, however mankind has always dreamed big and through technology we’ve evolved to something quite different from where we started from. Right now, we have drugs that have been 3D printed so that the pills give correct effect, however in the future we will see more and better targeted drugs using 3D printing as a guide, we will see not just organs and small parts of vascular systems replaced but we there will come a day when we can print entire limbs and maybe even working bodies. We can already reattach severed limbs and we are seeing the rise of cybernetic, mechanical, limbs through 3D printing. Once we’ve mastered this we will be able to print limbs and replace the parts we’ve lost.

Here we are sailing into dangerous waters, however. With CRISPR and other genome editing tools we are very close to having designer babies and with highly advanced medical 3D printing and materials we will be able to make stronger and more endurable muscles, bones, cartilage and tendons. Here we are moving into the so called “super soldier” territory. Every technology we have has always been used for war. We will have to be careful on the ethics as well as the uses.

3D printing is the now but even more importantly it is the future. We must be careful with it lest we abuse it.

Jaani's picture
12/19/2017 - 13:16
Jaani

Laajennetun todellisuuden lasit ovat tällä hetkellä ainoa tapa tuoda laajennettu todellisuus (AR) kunnolla kaikkien käyttöön. Jotta AR vihdoinkin saavuttaisi ansaitsemansa arvostuksensa ja käytettävyytensä kuluttajille tarkoitetut lasit ovat ehdoton seuraava askel teknologiassa.

Lasit mahdollistavat ”hands-free” käytön esimerkiksi kännykälle tai videolle, jne. Eli helpoimmillaan mobiililaite tuodaan käyttäjän näkökenttään isolla ruudulla. Parhaimmillaan GPS, kuva- ja ääniteknologia mahdollistavat tietokoneen luoman todellisuuden ja esittämän tiedon esittämisen oikean maailman päällä. Näin käyttäjälle luodaan laajennettu tai ”tehostettu” todellisuus.

AR-lasien kuvan esittämisessä on käytännössä kaksi ”koulukuntaa” jotka ovat ns. kaareva peili ja aalto-ohjain. Peilillä on montakin haastetta: kuvan väärä muoto ja pieni alue jolla silmä näkee kuvan. Ehkä pahimpana on lähettimen paikka ja näin käyttäjän kärsimä näköeste. Nämä ongelmat ovat kalliita ratkaista ja näin peililaseista ei ole tullut suosittuja.

Waveguide, aalto-ohjain, laseissa on monia eri tapoja ohjata kuva silmään, mutta näilläkin on omat ongelmansa, mutta myös vahvuutensa. Tässä artikkelissa tarkastellaan järkevän hintaisia, siis kuluttajille sopivia, teknologioita. Koska nämä teknologiat ovat suhteellisen uusia nousevat niiden ongelmat päällimmäisiksi.

Difraktio-laseissa käytetään hiloja kuvan luomiseen. Tämä on ns. Nokian malli ja esimerkiksi Vuzix on lisensoinut sen itselleen, myös Microsoft käyttää sitä HoloLens-laseissaan. Kyseessä on erittäin käyttökelpoinen teknologia, mutta tällä on myös haasteita, joiden takia teknologia ei ole yleistynyt. Ohjaimen luominen on kallista, koska siihen joudutaan luomaan nanometrisiä ritilöitä, joilla valo ohjataan ohjaimen sisällä. Samalla valo menettää muotonsa ja luo sateenkaariefektin näkökenttään. Siksi tämä onkin parhaimmillaan monokrominäytön kanssa. Kolmas kehityskohde on kapea näkökenttä. Vaikka tämä onkin erittäin käyttökelpoinen tapa luoda lasit, sen sisäiset ongelmat vaativat paljon prosessointia ja laite on kallis valmistaa. Edellä mainituista asioista huolimatta parhaat AR-lasit käyttävät tällä hetkellä difraktiota kuvan luomiseen.

Holografiset lasit kärsivät myös sateenkaariefektistä, kapeasta näkökentästä ja suurimpana haasteena on vain yhden värin läpäisy kerrallaan. Näin tarvitaan kolme lähetintä luomaan täysi kuva: punainen, vihreä ja sininen. Ihmisen silmä on erittäin hyvä huomaamaan värien erot ja näin holografiset lasit kärsivätkin epätasaisesta värien sekoituksesta. Sony ja Konica-Minolta ovat uranuurtajat tällä teknologialla, mutta tämä teknologia kuitenkin poikii edelleen uusia yrittäjiä, mutta vain Sony on saanut markkinoille toimivan laitteen. Jälleen palaamme monokromaattiseen valoon ja tuotteen hintaan. Näin tämä ei sovellu kunnolla kuluttajille.

Polarisoivaa aallonohjainta on käyttänyt Israelilainen Lumus, mutta he ovat siirtyneet heijastavaan aallonohjaimeen. Polarisoinnissa on todella monta käytännön ongelmaa: linssien tekeminen on anteeksiantamatonta ja täydelliselläkin tuotteella menetetään noin 70 prosenttia valosta ja läpäisystä. Näin käyttäjän näkökenttä sumenee pahasti, mutta näköalue on laaja. Silti tällä teknologialla on paljonkin käyttöarvoa, mutta kuluttajamarkkinoiden ulkopuolella.

Tällä hetkellä paras aalto-ohjain teknologia perustuu heijastavaan aallonohjaimeen, siis mediaan. Linssin aineena voidaan käyttää muovia ja väriongelmia ei ole, koska heijastaminen tapahtuu suorilla peileillä. Ehkäpä tärkeimpänä kuitenkin on se, että tämä teknologia ei käytä eksoottisia materiaaleja tai kemikaaleja, joten kustannukset saadaan pidettyä järkevinä. Samoin tehonkulutus on pientä, koska valon polarisaatiota ei ole ja näin voidaan käyttää mitä tahansa näyttöä alkuperäisen kuvan luomiseen. Niin Optinvent kuin Lumuskin käyttävät tätä teknologiaa. Epsonin Moverio-laite käyttää samaa ideaa. Googlen Google Glass on hiukan poikkeava, mutta silti periaatteessa samaan teknologiaan pohjautuva laite. Suurimpana ongelmana tällä teknologialla on se, että näyttöalue on yhtä iso kuin heijastava linssi paksu.

    Miksi siis käyttää AR-laseja tulevaisuudessa?
  1. AR-lasit kehittyvät teknologian kehittyessä. Alkuperäinen matkapuhelin on ihan erilainen kuin nykypäivän kännykkä.
  2. AR-lasit toimivat ja niitä on hyvä käyttää. Kannattaa aina kokeilla ennen hankintaa.
  3. AR-lasit mahdollistavat laajennetun todellisuuden töissä ja ovat työkalu. Kännykän AR-käyttö on hankalaa ja oikeasti tarvitset kummatkin kätesi työntekoon.
  4. Ne mahdollistavat laajennetun todellisuuden oikean käytön. AR on muutakin kuin työkalu ja lelu. Sille voidaan luoda mitä tahansa peleistä navigaatioon, lokaation perustuvaan sisältöön, jne. Lasit ovat ainoa aikoa immersiivinen ovi uuteen maailmaan.

Kaikilla teknologioilla on omat ongelmansa kuvan luonnissa ja tehon käytössä, mutta parhaimmat tulokset tähän asti on saatu niin difraktio-laseilla kuin heijastavillakin ja näin Versoteq voi suositella vain näitä kahta eri teknologiaa. Erikoisuutena ovat Lumusin uudet waveguide-heijastusnäytöt. Kyseinen yhtiö myy myös pelkkiä näyttöjä ja näin niillä voidaan luoda uudenlaisia AR-laitteita ja tuoda AR-näytöt eri tavoin käyttöön.

Tulen myöhemmin tekemään listauksen hyvistä laseista, mutta kannattaa aina muistaa, että teknologia sinällään ei ole tärkein, vaan käyttötarpeita vastaavat tuotteet, ohjelmistot ja varsinkin käyttöliittymä. Tästä Applen iPhone on loistava esimerkki. Alkujaan puhelimen teknologia ei ollut mitään erikoista ja tuskin erosi massasta. Laitteen suurin juju oli käyttöliittymä ja sen luomat mahdollisuudet. AR-tuotteita pitää lähestyä samalla lailla. Kaikkea teknologiaa voidaan hyödyntää, mutta jos perus ajatusta ei ole viety tarpeeksi pitkälle on tuote valmiiksi kuollut. Siksi meihin Versoteqillä kannattaa ottaa yhteyttä. Meillä on paljon osaamista niin elektroniikan kuin ohjelmistojen puolelta. Samalla meidän ohjelmistomme aina räätälöidään käyttötarpeen mukaan helppokäyttöisiksi.

Lähde ja lisää luettavaa: http://www.optinvent.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Position-Paper-AR-Gl...

Jaani's picture
11/24/2017 - 15:31
Jaani

Check out the great introduction to use cases of augmented and virtual reality within the heavy industry.
Full article in Finnish

Summary in English:
AR and VR technology are moving fast and adopted by more and more companies around the world. Both Apple and Google are releasing developer tools to enable AR content on new smart phones. AR glasses are not yet a big thing in the consumer market, but they're being used for various tasks inside companies. New standalone VR glasses are coming with an adoptable price range of 200 euros. Virtual reality is expected to emerge first, but augmented reality is going to be bigger in the future. Great thing about experimenting now is that the developed applications can be used with future devices. Also if one should develop a VR application now, the software can be ported to AR in the future with small efforts.

For the heavy industry main use cases for AR are:

  • Assembly - Live instructions, checks for quality and manuals when ever need
  • Maintenance - Live instructions and remote expert knowledge via internet
  • Internet of Things - Sensor data displayed while looking at the device or production line
  • Quality control - Track errors instantly while working
  • Automation - Simple and even more complex reporting can be automated
  • Inventory - Aid in logistics, reporting and checks

Main use cases for VR are:

  • Virtual prototyping - Saves a lot of money if some of the physical prototyping steps can be skipped
  • Collaboration - Work on the products in virtual environment
  • Training - In the virtual space you can allow errors, give feedback and train people for the real thing
  • Remote operation - Devices can be operated though the virtual space
  • Planning - Virtual check of the production line or product before it has even been built

Contact Versoteq to book a time to discuss your potential:
Rauno Huttunen
0503099104
rauno.huttunen@versoteq.com

Rauno's picture
10/16/2017 - 12:02
Rauno