3D Printing

3D Printing A Blood Recycling Machine that Could Make a Big Difference to People’s Lives

Brightwake has developed a revolutionary blood recycling machine, called the Hemosep, using a 3D printer. The Hemosep recovers blood spilled during open heart and major trauma surgery, concentrating the blood cells and making them ready for transfusion back into the patient. This process, known as autotransfusion, reduces the volume of donor blood required and the problems associated with transfusion reaction.

The prototype device features a number of fully functional 3D printed parts such as the main filtration and cooling systems. 3D printing enabled the Brightwake team to functionally test the system in its intended environment before the final device is produced from metal. The device has passed relevant safety standard tests and is attracting interest from distributors and healthcare providers across the world.

hemosep 3d printingSteve Cotton, Brightwake’s Director of Research and Development said: “The Hemosep consists of a bag that uses chemical sponge technology and a mechanical agitator to concentrate blood sucked from a surgical site or drained from a heart-lung machine after surgery. The cells are then returned to the patient via blood transfusion. In a climate of blood shortage, this recycling methodology has the potential to be a game-changer within the medical industry, saving health services millions.”

Originating in the traditional textiles industry of Nottingham, UK, Brightwake Ltd. is a family-run creative research, development, engineering and production company specialising in innovative manufacturing solutions. Brightwake’s use of 3D printing has presented significant cost- and time-saving benefits what with medical device production demanding extremely accurate parts, capable of enduring the stress of functional and safety tests.

Mr. Cotton continued: “Previously we had to outsource the production of these parts, which took around three weeks per part. Now we’re 3D printing superior strength parts overnight, cutting our prototyping costs by 96% and saving more than £1,000 for each 3D printed model. 3D printing has not only enabled us to cut our own costs, it has also been crucial in actually getting a functional device to clinical trials. The ability to 3D print parts that look, feel and perform like the final product, on-the-fly, is the future of medical device manufacturing.”

Professor Serdar Gunaydin, Head of Cardiac Surgery at the University of Kirikkale, where the trials were conducted said: “The technology is a real step forward in the fields of autotransfusion for cardiac surgery, being highly effective, easy-to-use and associated with a reduction in the need for donor transfusion and blood loss in these patients.

“In the climate of national blood product shortages and concern for disease transmission and immunosuppression, every effort should be made to optimise blood recovery and reduce allogeneic blood usage. The Hemosep technology has produced impressive results, it is the easiest method we have ever used. There is no interference with the ongoing operation and the product is ready to use following a very short processing time. It quickly and safely recovers substantial proteins, clotting factors and cell concentrates for all types of cardiac procedures.”

“We believe this new technology will be one of the essential components of the routine heart surgery in the near future. We even think this technique may be useful for blood preservation during transplantation, orthopedics and neurosurgery.”

The device was prototyped on a Stratasys’ Dimension 1200es 3D Printer. Transfusions with the device and further trials are continuing in the UK.