3D printing is more and more used in healthcare to personalize medical treatment for each patient. However, some difficulties remain in how to bring this latest 3D technology into the medical world. Concretely, how to design and manufacture just-in-time what the doctor precisely needs?
Challenges in customization
The production of custom-made medical devices is quite challenging. Indeed, the product must perfectly answer to the doctor’s needs and be ready on time for each personalized treatment. This requires efficient communication, design and production!
Good communication with the medical team is essential to know what the doctor precisely needs. There can be several interactions: at the beginning to receive all the patient’s information and know what needs to be done, during the product creation to comment and validate the design and after the treatment to receive some feedback. Those interactions must be easy and efficient for both the medical team and the manufacturer. Miscommunication can be the first barrier in treatment customization.
Since it is patient-specific, the product creation is different for every case. The design of those custom-made products can therefore be time-consuming using a common design software. Aiming to a fluent design process, the software needs to be adapted to the medical application with automated steps developed to save time in simple and repetitive tasks.
The just-in-time production must also be well-tuned to have everything ready on time. Managing what to 3D-print or to send out is vital to meet the deadlines and to make sure that a patient has not been forgotten! Overcoming those obstacles is not easy as the deadlines in personalizing treatment can be short.
Experience and solutions
3D-Side, a Belgian company, took up the challenge to bring 3D technology to surgeons, and therefore to overcome these issues in communication, design and production! Thanks to 3D software, additive manufacturing and strong knowledge of the surgical field, 3D-Side set Dup a complete ISO13485 workflow to plan complex interventions and provide the surgeon with patient-specific instruments or implants, such as cranial implants or advanced treatment for bone surgeries.
With this experience in designing and manufacturing patient-specific medical devices, 3D-Side has developed tools helping other companies to customize their process. Through an online platform, Customize, companies can be assisted in every step of their workflow: from the patient’s data transfer to the delivery, under ISO13485 to ensure the quality of the medical devices.
Customize consists in 3 modules:
Interact: a communication tool to interact easily and quickly with the medical team
Create: a design program to create your custom-made implants or instruments
Supervise: a production management interface to supervise your just-in-time deliveries
Interact will make the communication with the medical team easier and more effective by being able to interact anywhere and anytime from a computer, tablet or mobile. It enables the doctor to easily send a patient’s medical image, visualize the 3D surgical planning and supervise the engineering work through a secured channel, with a main objective to have everything ready for the day of treatment.
Create is a dedicated software for 3D design, fully adaptable to the medical application. This will solve the time-consuming design by automating lots of steps. 3D-Side can either adapt the software for other companies or offer engineering services to design the product in-house.
Supervise will ensure a just-in-time delivery by controlling and automating the production. It summarizes all the current patients and their status to easily see the deadlines for production and delivery, telling the design and production teams when and what to do.
Those challenges in customization have shown that, with those emerging 3D technologies, the industry must adapt ways of working by using a new generation of communication, design and production management tools. Those Customize modules have first helped 3D-Side making their process much more efficient and will now assist other manufacturers making their daily work much easier.