The 3D printing industry today is moving towards applications, solutions and manufacturing. Where there used to be more press releases than parts, we now are seeing useful solutions emerge along with productive applications that unlock millions of potential parts. Stratasys is currently investing in developing industry and application-specific solutions that take the 3D printing dream and make it doable. By coordinating the development of materials, software, and machines the company wants to take “you could 3D print this” to “you will 3D print this.” Today the firm has released its Digital Anatomy Solution. The Digital Anatomy Solution combines a new trio of materials with the J750 printer and custom software inside GrabCAD to let people easily turn 3D scans into 3D printed parts for training and surgical planning.
Stratasys’ J750 printer lets you make gradient parts that have different densities in them. An ear can be made with flexible and hard parts as well as transparencies. Although the Polyjet materials are expensive and the parts look fantastic they were often not really strong or well suited to use in the real world. Now with its new trio of materials, the firm has made tougher materials. What’s more, these materials have been optimized to feel like and look like bone and tissue making them more suited for the application. The TissueMatrix, GelMatrix, and BoneMatrix materials also come with a Blood Vessel Cleaning Station to let you easily clean support from blood vessels (which used to be super annoying). The best thing, however, is that now through GrabCAD you can in a straightforward way assign densities and colors to parts. Their Digital Anatomy Solution takes the potential of the J750 and Polyjet and now makes it accessible for hospitals and medical schools.
The company hopes to “replicate the feel, responsiveness, and biomechanics of human anatomy in medical models” and in a new twist is specifically targetting the, oodles of cash on hand carrying, medical device market as well as the more traditional hospitals. The company also describes the resulting models as Functional Anatomical Models. One of the things that these models could do is to replace cadavers in medical training, the firm hopes that the 3D printed tissue models and phantoms can feel more like live tissue than cadavers do.
3DPrint.com interviewed Scott Drikakis, Medical Segment Leader at Stratasys about the new product release. He told us that for four years the company had been working on a more vertical solution-oriented strategy. Specifically the firm had worked for several years with medical device and hospital customers to test the solution. By going directly to customers and working with them they were able to from residency to the surgeons find out what people in hospitals needed. Drikakis told us that the Stratasys solution is a “50% reduction in cost when compared to animal or cadavers.” One of the main advantages of digital anatomy is that “customers can replicate specific pathology” and that models “feel like native tissue, behave like native tissue and react like tissue.” This is a “big shift” and represents a true “end to end workflow” where now “the results are being validated by independent researchers.” This “third-party validation” will lead to “published research comparing how this solution compared to the body.”
“Instead of visual models for surgical planning, we now can have functional models for surgical planning. With the Tissue Matrix material, we have the softest material on the market with A Shore hardness. With Bone Matrix, we can make a rib that I can snap. We can replicate the external features of bone as well as the internal features across different types of bone. Coupled with a voxel-based slicer we can generate internal structures that are consistent with real bone and tissue.”
Drikakis says that the team has been working with customers to “dial in the software for two years” with a lot of focus on the UI making it easy to identify and replicate specific types of bone for example. The company is investing in the Digital Anatomy Solution as well having a medical team of six available to help customers adopt the solution, over 100 key partners will be receiving training on the platform soon. These will, in turn, provide training and support worldwide.
Whereas in many markets “solutions” have become a bit of a marketing cliche in 3D printing they are sorely needed. By making Digital Anatomy simple to use and operate, Stratasys could have a real winner on its hands.
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