Update on Dubai’s 3D Printing Strategy: DHA Will Soon Begin Using 3D Printing Technology for Dental Services and Ultra-Lightweight Prosthetics

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Dubai-Health-Authority-logoIn early 2016, Dubai implemented its 3D Printing Strategy, as part of a directive given by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. It introduced a multi-tiered plan, focused on construction, medical products, and consumer products, to make the UAE a global leader in 3D printing. They’ve said that by the year 2030, 25% of the city-state’s buildings will be based on 3D printing technology; this objective was illustrated by the unveiling of a 3D printed office building and a proposed 3D printed laboratory space in a solar park. A Dubai official then announced that all hospitals under the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) will start utilizing 3D printing technology as early as 2017, and it looks like this initiative has begun.

“The DHA spares no effort in incorporating the latest technology to better patient outcomes. 3D technology allows doctors to better plan their surgery or procedure and use minimally invasive procedures,” said Humaid Al Qatami, Chairman and Director-General of the DHA.

“Using 3D technology for surgeries and other medical purposes is the future and we are currently working on developing regulations for 3D printing for patients and the medical sector in Dubai.”

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This dental replica was made using a 3D printer. [Photo: Stratasys via Arabian Business]

The DHA announced that the dental services department will start 3D printing teeth this year, though a senior DHA official said this is just the start of the DHA’s plan to introduce 3D printing to all healthcare fields. When dental patients come in to have gummy impressions made of their teeth for extensive work like crowns, braces, or dentures, they will be able to enjoy an easier, less time-consuming process, thanks to 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies.

“Using this technology, a dentist will simply scan the teeth using an intra-oral scanner, which will create a digital impression,” said Dr. Hamda Mesmar, director of Dental Services Department. “This image is then sent across to the 3D printing machine through the intranet from different Dental Clinics within DHA, which then replicates the image as a 3D model.”

“The 3D image helps us with accurate planning and precision especially for complicated dental procedures and surgeries. Patients will greatly benefit from the use of this technology as it helps in better patient outcomes as well as substantially reduces waiting time and cost of care.”

The dentist uses a scanning wand around the inside of the patient’s mouth for one to two minutes, mapping out the resulting 3D impression onto a computer program. The impression is sent to a 3D printer, which, in just six hours, can make up to 18 resin molds of teeth; it would take a qualified professional up to two hours to make just a single plaster mold in the traditional way.

arabhealth-online-logoAs someone who personally turns into a quivering mess at the dentist’s office if I don’t have my headphones to drown out the noise of the various dental tools, a wand in the mouth for just two minutes sounds like a much better option. The DHA is showing off the new 3D technology at the Arab Health Forum in Dubai this week and it will be introduced to eleven DHA-operated health centers over the next few weeks.

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Dr Mohammed Al Redha displays the ultra-lightweight 3D printed prosthetic leg. [Image: Atiq-ur-Rehman/Gulf News]

But 3D scanning teeth isn’t the only way the DHA is continuing the Dubai 3D Printing Strategy. Another technology coming soon to Dubai is an ultra-lightweight 3D printed prosthetic leg, made in Germany and costing way less than traditional sculpted prosthetics. The leg can be 3D printed in just one day, and one of the other benefits is that 3D printed prosthetics allow for more elaborate, colorful designs.

Dr. Mohammad Al Redha, Director of the Office of Organisational Transformation at the DHA, said, “The other benefit of this is that if you don’t like it, you didn’t spend a lot of money.”

The DHA’s plan is to begin 3D printing advanced prosthetic body parts during the next ten years.

Al Qatami said, “Using 3D technology for surgeries and other medical purposes is the future. We are currently working on developing regulations for 3D printing for patients and the medical sector in Dubai. We are also looking at training doctors and health care professionals on the use of this technology.”

In continuing with the government’s aim to make Dubai, and the entire UAE, a global 3D printing hub by 2030, research is already underway for mass producing implants, prosthetics, and hearing aids as well.

“At the DHA, we are keen to be part of the innovation and research process as well as understand ways in which we can bring and regulate the use of this technology in Dubai to benefit our population and medical tourists,” said Dr. Al Redha.

Discuss in the Dubai forum at 3DPB.com.

[Sources: Arabian Business / Gulf News]

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