What’s new in 3D printing: medical devices, research, innovation, automation and partnerships

This 3D-printed robotic heart can simulate how a specific cardiac patient will benefit from different valve implants.[Image courtesy of Melanie Gonick/MIT]

3D printing is helping more patients than ever before through personalized medical devices, faster and cheaper prototyping and more affordable manufacturing.

Recent developments include research into tissue and organ regeneration, lightning-fast responses to supply chain shortages, wearables that improve patient treatment, and major investments by device manufacturers.

Here are some of the 3D printing advances that show what the future may hold.


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Formlabs launches new skin-safe 3D printing material for healthcare

Formlabs’ TPU 90A Powder is a new skin-safe 3D printing material. [Image courtesy of Formlabs]

NEWS RELEASE: Formlabs Introduces TPU 90A Powder, The First Elastomer Material for Fuse Series 3D Printers

Formlabs, the leading 3D printing company, is excited to announce its newest material for Fuse Series printers: TPU 90A Powder, a tough elastomer powder. This new material enables strong, functional, skin-safe parts with high tear strength and elongation.

The strength and flexibility of TPU 90A powder allows for the production of fully functional parts in-house, providing complete design freedom and a seamless workflow on the Fuse Series SLS 3D printing ecosystem. By leveraging this material, engineers and manufacturers can bridge the gap between manufacturing stages, produce fully functional prototypes, manufacturing aids and end-use parts, and take full control of their supply chain. Additionally, TP…

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Stratasys and Ricoh sign agreement to provide 3D-printed anatomic models for personalized care

3D printing can create anatomical models like this skull. [Photo courtesy of Stratasys]

Stratasys today announced it signed an agreement with Ricoh to provide on-demand 3D-printed anatomic models for clinical settings.

Stratasys’ patient-specific 3D solutions use 3D printing technology from Stratasys, cloud-based Segmentation-as-a-Service solution from Axial3D and precision additive manufacturing services from Ricoh into one convenient solution. The new agreement builds on an existing relationship between Ricoh 3D for Healthcare and Stratasys to expand access to 3D-printed medical models.

Anatomic 3D-printed models are realistic and provide specific visualizations of a patient’s anatomy to allow practitioners to plan and practice complex surgeries and improve communication between medical staff, the patient and families. The company’s Digital Anatomy technology allows the models to be b…

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Formlabs launches mass production tool for automated 3D printer fleets

Formlabs said its Automation Ecosystem offers increased 3D printing output and reduced per-part costs without adding operational complexity. [Image courtesy of Formlabs]

Formlabs introduced its Automation Ecosystem this week, allowing manufacturers to easily expand from a single 3D printer to a scalable fleet.

Formlabs said its new offering provides a three-time increase in productivity 80% labor savings, per-part-cost savings of 40% and packaging waste reduction of up to 96%. Users can send multiple prints for continuous runs overnight and into the weekend.

The Formlabs Automation Ecosystem includes:

Form Auto, which Formlabs said enables automated 24/7 printing with automatic part removal so users can level up production and reduce labor. When parts are complete, Form Auto removes finished parts and starts the next print in the queue. The hardware extension works with Form 3 and Form 3+ 3D printer…
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Affordable 3D-printed medical devices reach commercialization

Medical prints made with Formlabs 3D printers [Photo courtesy of Formlabs]

3D printer accessibility and affordability are enabling small device firms to develop and market a wave of personalized devices.

Gaurav Manchanda, Formlabs

Healthcare is becoming more efficient, and patients are beginning to expect a personalized approach. 3D printing isn’t a newly minted manufacturing technology, yet it’s reached an inflection point for bringing change in healthcare and dental applications.

Traditionally, 3D printing was prohibitively expensive and only available to the largest, best-resourced medical centers and device manufacturers. But these days, 3D printers have become more affordable and accessible. As a result, additive manufacturing is surging in healthcare as medical providers and device manufacturers tap into the ability to safely produce novel, patient-specific, biocompatible and sterilizable parts…

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Formlabs hires president for healthcare 3D printing business

Guillaume Bailliard is president of Formlabs Healthcare. [Photo courtesy of Formlabs]

Formlabs has hired Guillaume Bailliard as president of the 3D printing company’s healthcare business.

Somerville, Massachusetts-based Formlabs announced the news today, but Bailliard’s LinkedIn page said he’s been in the role since June.

He was previously CEO and president of medtech developer ControlRad, North American president for imaging device manufacturer Mauna Kea Technologies, EVP of global sales and marketing at Naviscan and ended a nine-year career at GE Healthcare as Americas X-ray sales manager.

“3D printing in healthcare is an exciting opportunity that can streamline workflows, enable precision healthcare, and improve patient outcomes. Formlabs has been at the forefront of this innovation, with solutions that have enabled the industry to capture the benefits of 3D printing technolog…

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AI-enabled 3D printer watches and improves material handling on the fly

Two computer vision cameras monitor this 3D printer to detect errors and adjust in real time. [Photo courtesy of MIT]

An AI-enabled additive manufacturing system allowed a 3D printer to monitor and adjust material handling in real time, cutting down the trial-and-error process of learning how to print with new materials.

The technology could make it easier for engineers in medtech and other industries to use new materials in 3D printed products for special electrical or chemical properties, cutting down on the time and materials spent on trial-and-error. It could also help manufacturing equipment adjust to changes in the material or printing environment.

The MIT researchers behind the research project said it could have applications for manufacturing processes beyond 3D printing.

“This project is really the first demonstration of building a manufacturing system that uses machine learning to learn …

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What is microscale 3D printing? Lessons learned from Mayo Clinic

These 3D printed microneedles — viewed through a scanning electron microscope — are pictured next to a traditional 29-gauge hypodermic needle. A human hair is approximately as wide as the 100 micron scale marker in the image. [Image courtesy of Mayo Clinic]

Microscale 3D printing has the potential to revolutionize medical device development.

Seth Hara, Ph.D., and Renc Saracaydin, Mayo Clinic

The Mayo Clinic Division of Engineering is an embedded engineering team that provides engineering support and service for researchers and clinicians throughout the enterprise. To meet their needs, the engineering team has embraced the use of microscale 3D printing.

Microscale 3D printing in medical device development is still relatively new. As this technology continues to mature, the field will continue to find new and exciting opportunities to advance the practice of medicine.

As the name implies, micros…

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Evonik launches new Resomer PrintPowder polymers for 3D printing of personalized, implantable medical devices

Evonik’s Resome PrintPowder is used for 3D printing medical devices and implants. [Photo courtesy of Evonik]

Evonik has launched the second generation of Resomer PrintPowder polymers for 3D printing of personalized, implantable medical devices.

Essen, Germany-based Evokik said the powders have a broader range of customizable mechanical properties and degradation rates, allowing their use for more complex and tailored medical devices including orthopedic, dental, or soft tissue applications.

“These new powders will allow manufacturers to create personalized devices with complex internal designs that match a patient’s anatomy — this will open up new treatment options for patients,” Thomas Riermeier, head of Evonik’s Health Care business line, said in a news release.

Evonik also offers comprehensive selective laser sintering (SLS) application and printing service support for the new powde…

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Texas A&M lab engineers 3D-functional bone tissues

A team of researchers at Texas A&M University is developing a highly printable bioink as a platform to generate anatomical-scale functional tissues.

Dr. Akhilesh Gaharwar and the Texas A&M team are working together to develop these bioinks, known as nanoengineered ionic-covalent entanglement (NICE) bioinks that combine nonreinforcement and ionic-covalent network to provide more effective reinforcement, resulting in stronger structures, according to a news release. Results from a study were published in the American Chemical Society’s Applied Materials and Interfaces.

Once the bioprinting phase is complete, the cell-laden NICE networks are crosslinked, forming stronger scaffolds and allowing labs to produce full-scale, cell-friendly reconstructions of human body parts, including ears, blood vessels, cartilage and bone segments. The enclosed cells then deposit new proteins that calcify to form a mineralized bone over three months.

“The …

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