At age 9, Blessing Makwera was severely injured when a land mine blew up in his face. The damage left him with severe disfigurement for years, until technology from 3D Systems was able to restore his jaw in a complex, 12-hour surgery. Today, Makwera was among those in attendance at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for 3D Systems’ brand new, 70,000-square-foot Healthcare Technology Center in Littleton, CO. Meticulous surgical planning, using advanced virtual simulators and and 3D printed anatomical models, allowed surgeons to reconstruct the young Zimbabwean man’s face in a way that never would have been possible without 3D Systems’ technology. Today, Makwera says he is thrilled to be present at the opening of a facility that will help to advance the life-changing, lifesaving capabilities of 3D medical technology.
“Today is an important day in medicine,” said Makwera, who is one of several attendees including government officials, additive manufacturing experts, and leaders in the medical and academic fields. “My story illustrates how life changing this technology can be, and I am overjoyed to think of the many lives that will be impacted and improved by the capabilities made possible here.”
3D Systems has established a well-earned reputation as one of the top providers of 3D solutions to the healthcare industry. From surgical training simulators to 3D printed surgical models, implants and prosthetics, the 3D Systems name is never far from any discussion about the newest, most advanced 3D medical technology. The new facility, which is ISO 13485 certified for healthcare solutions, will allow the company to focus and expand their efforts to develop groundbreaking, lifesaving new applications.
“Our new Healthcare Technology Center answers the growing need of the medical community for innovative and adaptive tools designed to provide better insights, better processes and better outcomes,” said Kevin McAlea, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Healthcare, 3D Systems. “Our extensive and growing offering of precision healthcare and medical 3D printing solutions provide the means and skills for medical and dental professionals to overcome today’s challenges and advance the future of care.”
The Healthcare Technology Center will feature several manufacturing floors dedicated to 3D Systems’ full range of 3D printing technology. Perhaps the coolest part of the facility is the simulation experience center. It’s one thing to read about lifesaving surgeries performed with the help of 3D printing and modeling, but it’s quite another to see the technology close up. At the simulation experience center, visitors can try out the company’s Simbionix surgical simulators for themselves, and see firsthand how the simulators and 3D printed models can be used together to learn about human anatomy and to practice surgeries before performing them on patients.
When it comes to acceptance of new technology – particularly when it relates to medicine – knowledge is everything. Dr. Oren Tepper, Director of Craniofacial Surgery at the Montefiore Medical Center, also attended the grand opening of the Healthcare Technology Center, and applauds the center’s joint approach to advancing 3D medical technology through both product development and education.
“Awareness and access have been the biggest hurdles to adopting 3D technology in healthcare,” Dr. Tepper said. “This facility will be a tremendous asset to the healthcare community in developing and proving precise methodologies for some of medicine’s most trying cases.”
3D Systems has a hand in just about every industry, from aerospace to architecture to jewelry, but recently they’ve been putting a lot more investment into certain areas. Their recently opened Culinary Lab in Los Angeles revealed their intentions to develop one of the lesser-explored areas of 3D printing, but the Healthcare Technology Center makes a lot more sense. When asked where 3D printing is making the biggest impact, medicine is what immediately comes to mind. It’s the industry in which 3D printing has the most potential to actually save lives, and just about every major corporation in the 3D printing industry is racing to keep up with rapid pace at which 3D medical technology is developing.
3D Systems may already be way ahead of other companies in terms of medical 3D technology, but the new center, which will serve as the company’s global healthcare hub, will play a big role in helping them to stay in the lead. Chuck Hull, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer for 3D Systems, couldn’t be happier.
“From the first printed part, I knew 3D printing had the potential to impact lives,” Hull said, “but I never imagined the revolutionary ways in which this technology would enhance healthcare and improve the quality of life for so many.”
What are your thoughts on this new facility? Discuss in the 3DS New 3D Printing Facility forum over at 3DPB.com.