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Ricoh Begins Clinical Study on 3D Printed Models and Launches On-site Print Services

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At RAPID+TCT 2024, Japanese printing leader Ricoh showcased the inroads its making in additive manufacturing (AM) services and medical 3D printing. Perhaps most significantly, Stratasys Ltd. and Ricoh USA, Inc. announced the enrollment of the first patient in a clinical study to evaluate the use of 3D printed models in orthopedic oncology. Additionally, Ricoh launched its All-In 3D Print solution, an evolution of its AM services that sees the company establish print centers at customer locations.

Clinical Study for Anatomical Models

The use of 3D printed models in preoperative planning offers significant benefits for both medical practitioners and patients. Surgeons benefit from enhanced pre-surgical planning and practice, making complex procedures more efficient, economical, and faster. Unlike computer images, 3D printed models provide life-size physical replicas of patient anatomy, allowing doctors to simulate procedures and improve the precision of excisions, ultimately reducing the likelihood of a positive margin. This improved surgical process also enhances patient outcomes and recovery by better communicating planned procedures.

3D printed anatomical model from Ricoh. Image courtesy of Ricoh.

The new study announced by Ricoh and Stratasys is the partners’ first clinical study to assess the efficacy of their patient-specific 3D printed anatomical models for preoperative planning and tumor excision compared to the current standard, which relies solely on CT or MRI imaging. While numerous studies have explored 3D printed models in various surgeries, this study targets orthopedic oncology specifically. The partnership aims to demonstrate significant improvements in surgical outcomes and establish these models as a new standard for tumor removal surgeries from bones, potentially revolutionizing preoperative planning in this specialty.

The prospective, multi-center randomized controlled study will run for 12 months and involve up to 150 subjects across three sites. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Corewell Health in Michigan are the initial sites participating. The research seeks to demonstrate potential improvements in surgical outcomes, including reduced blood loss, shorter operating times, and decreased risk of complications. Clinical outcomes will be compared between an experimental group using 3D printed models alongside imaging for planning, and a comparator group using imaging alone.

“Being one of the sites to participate in this study puts us on the forefront of demonstrating new technologies that can advance patient care and improve health outcomes,” said Aws Hammad, M.D., clinical faculty of orthopedic surgery at Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital. “Addressing the challenges that come along with bone sarcomas and utilizing the power of patient-specific 3D modeling is a significant step in not only patient education but as an aid to surgeons for more precise surgical procedures.”

Ricoh’s All-In 3D Print Solution

In addition to the clinical study, Ricoh USA, Inc. launched its fully managed on-site 3D-printing solution, RICOH All-In 3D Print. Ricoh’s All-In 3D Print solution sets up and manages 3D printing operations for businesses and organizations, providing a comprehensive service that includes consultation, hardware, software, on-site skilled staff, and training. This approach aims to streamline the adoption of AM, offering predictable operating costs and immediate operational capabilities without the financial risks of setting up a new 3D printing lab. The service also includes support from the Ricoh Center for Additive Manufacturing at North Carolina State University, ensuring rapid innovation and problem-solving capabilities.

“With one of the largest service networks in the country, RICOH All-In 3D Print removes the barriers and headaches that are commonly associated with implementing and managing an on-site 3D-printing operation,” said Gary Turner, Managing Director, Additive Manufacturing, Ricoh USA, Inc. “By handling all aspects of the additive manufacturing process, we allow our clients to focus on their core business activities while we manage their 3D-print needs with expert precision. All-In 3D Print not only delivers immediate cost savings, but also ensures the highest quality of prototyping, fostering an environment where ideas can flourish.”

It’s interesting to see Ricoh expand beyond its own AM service offering to setting up centers on behalf of clients. Xerox, Ricoh, and other 2D printing experts have provided managed print services (MPS) for traditional 2D printing in the past and present. These services help businesses optimize their print infrastructure by managing hardware, software, and processes associated with document printing and management.

Xerox’s Managed Print Services, for instance, streamline office printing by consolidating devices, optimizing fleet management, and automating workflows to increase efficiency and reduce costs. These services also include security, cloud integration, analytics, and sustainability initiatives to ensure a comprehensive solution that supports both paper and digital document needs. Similarly, Ricoh offers managed print services that focus on improving productivity and reducing operational costs through centralized management of print devices, workflow automation, and enhanced document security.

Notably, AM service bureaus have often struggled to be profitable, with the most successful companies offering services beyond 3D printing. For instance, Proto Labs and Xometry provide manufacturing capabilities outside of AM, while Materialise puts its software ahead of its services in terms of business. In this case, Ricoh has found a novel method for expanding the adoption of AM that isn’t entirely unheard of in 3D printing, but that has yet to be deployed at scale.

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