Medical & Dental

How iMed Tech is using 3D printing to transform the lives of cancer survivors

iMed Tech is a South African med-tech start up that chiefly employs young female engineers, and produces prosthetics for cancer patients and burn victims. 

While surgically placed 3D printed breast implants are already available, iMed Tech’s Neyne range of 3D printed external breast prostheses are available in a range of skin tones. For its latest project, iMed Tech wishes to 3D print 1000 prostheses to give away to 1000 mastectomy patients.

The Neyne prosthetics on display. Photo via Neyne Prostheses.

Engineering life-changing prosthetics

iMed Tech was founded by Lesotho-born Nneile Nkholise in 2015, who is a mechanical engineer by training. Nkholise has so far received a patent for a “breast prostheses retention bar” and her company is now based in Rivonia, Johannesburg. In an interview, Nkholise explained her reasons for setting up the company.

“iMed Tech was birthed from my master’s research on the application of additive manufacturing for the fabrication of external maxillofacial prostheses. I realized how the demand for prostheses is so high while the current methods for manufacturing them couldn’t meet these demands.”

Nkholise’s latest project, to print 1000 external breast prostheses, is aimed at 1000 patients who cannot afford surgical breast reconstruction or prosthetic implants. The prostheses are 3D printed from a bio-compatible silicone elastomer, meaning that they can be placed against the skin.

Explaining her choice of using 3D printing for the implants, Nkholise noted that it is “cheaper and faster than the older methods”.

The campaign for Neyne Prostheses. Photo via Twitter/@nneile.

Transforming life across the Africa

Outside South Africa, Nigeria has seen the greatest use of 3D printing in Africa. Earlier this year, Nigerian Foundries announced that it had partnered with US OEM Titan Robotics to improve tooling and production at the steelworks.

Fellow Lagos-based startup Elephab has begun 3D printing replacement parts in an attempt to reinvigorate business in Africa.

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Featured image shows Nneile Nkholise, founder of iMed Tech, in her office. Photo via Twitter/@nneile.