Formlabs’ Form Cell

Last summer, Formlabs introduced the Form Cell, an automated production solution that leverages its Form 2 3D printer. The automated, factory-ready solution uses a row of Form 2 3D printers, the Form Wash part washer and Form Cure curing station, and an industrial robotic gantry system, and can easily be added to an existing workflow, like the one at Northwell Health.

Northwell, the largest health care provider in the state of New York, already uses 3D printing – specifically Formlabs’ technology. But now, it has become one of the company’s first Form Cell customers, as it’s incorporated the powerful system into its 3D Design and Innovation Center in order to increase its production of patient-specific surgical guides and anatomical models.

A recent study based on data from Northwell shows that time in the operating room for complex cases can be reduced by at least 10% if 3D printed models and/or surgical guides are used. Additionally, assuming that 10-15% of selected surgical cases could use one of these, the annual cost avoidance for the operating room for 1,150 annual cases could be about $1,750,000. Theoretically, this means that Northwell could save approximately $7 million within four years by 3D printing models on the Form Cell.

By using personalized, detailed 3D printed anatomical models, surgeons can more effectively prepare for difficult surgeries, and even pre-fit equipment before even starting a procedure. Surgeons can use 3D printed, patient-specific surgical guides during oncologic and orthopedic procedures, which can be a great help when working out precise excisions of tumors, and drill depths for optimal screw insertions.

One person who can see the benefits of this partnership on a more personal level is Barnaby Goberdhan. His 7-year-old son, Isaiah Onassis Goberdhan, was having trouble breathing through one of his nostrils, and a checkup with a Northwell physician revealed the presence of an aggressive tumor in his palate and nasal cavity. Surgery was required to remove it, so the family met with Neha A. Patel, MD, a Northwell pediatric otolaryngologist at Cohen Children’s Medical Center.

Patient model prep

Dr. Patel worked with Todd Goldstein, PhD, a Northwell Health researcher, to create a personalized 3D rendering of Isaiah’s palate, using his CT and MRI scans. Then, Formlabs technology was used to 3D print an anatomical model with the tumor, and one with it removed, in order to help the doctors and the family physically visualize the entire procedure ahead of time.

“Having a 3D printed depiction of my son was really helpful when talking with the doctor about his surgery. The doctor was able to do more than talk me through what they were going to do – Dr. Patel showed me,” said Goberdhan. “There is almost nothing more frightening and stressful than having your child go through surgery. There were several options Dr. Patel walked us through for the best way to preserve Isaiah’s teeth and prevent additional cuts within his mouth. I wanted all of my questions answered so I could be less fearful and more prepared to talk my son through what he was about to face. I wanted Isaiah to feel prepared. With the 3D model, we both felt more at ease.”

Patient model 3D printed on Form 2

Using the 3D printed models helped the doctors plan to preserve Isaiah’s teeth, as well as other important structures in his palate and nasal cavity.

“As a part of Northwell’s multidisciplinary team, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Dev Kamdar from Head and Neck Surgery, Dr. Ken Kurtz from Prosthodontics, and Dr. Korgan Koral from Neuroradiology to formulate a treatment strategy for Isaiah. It wasn’t until we worked with Dr. Goldstein’s team that we were able to incorporate 3D printing into our surgery and really bring Isaiah’s family into the shared decision making process. The 3D models help me explain surgery to patients and plan for surgery,” explained Dr. Patel. “In Isaiah’s case, I wanted to be able to visualize where the tumor was and to determine whether we could preserve key structures in the area. The palate and nasal cavity is a delicate area, close to the orbit and dentition. Precision is key and the 3D-printed model helped us get very accurate.”

The surgery was successfully conducted a few months ago by Dr. Kamdar and Dr. Patel, and now that Isaiah can breathe normally out of both nostrils, he’s able to run around and play like other children his age.

Isaiah said, “Before the surgery, I had trouble breathing in and out of my nose, which made it hard for me to keep up with my family and friends at school. The surgery was fine and now I’m able to breathe so much better.”

Now that Northwell has incorporated the Form Cell, it will be able to scale up 3D printing production of surgical guides and anatomical models, so even more of its patents can benefit.

Discuss this story, and other 3D printing topics, at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the comments below.

[Images provided by Formlabs]
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