IN(3D)USTRY 2018 interviews: 3D printing in healthcare from CELLINK, AVINENT, Arburg

3D Printing Industry is in Barcelona this week for the third edition of the IN(3D)USTRY: From Needs to Solutions Additive and Advanced Manufacturing Global Hub.

Under the umbrella of Barcelona Industry Week, this year’s IN(3D)USTRY welcomed companies, speakers, and visitors all, according to Events Director Miquel Serrano, exceeding in the number of attendance from last year’s IN(3D)USTRY 2017.

Exhibitors including Renishaw, HP, Formlabs, demonstrated additive innovations in automotive and aerospace, however, the healthcare sector had the largest presence. As a result, 3D Printing Industry spoke with a variety of companies to understand the demand both the medical and dental industries have for additive manufacturing.

In one of these interviews Serrano, stated:

“Health is a necessity not only for professionals, innovators, and patients in Barcelona but worldwide. As new technologies develop, so has the quality of health care, which leaves us with inventions not seen in other industries.”

Inside IN(3D)USTRY. Photo by Tia Vialva.
Inside IN(3D)USTRY. Photo by Tia Vialva.

Accelerating regenerative medicine with CELLINK

Throughout the selection of exhibitors, I was compelled to pay a visit to CELLINK, a Swedish biotechnologies company, who happened to have its BIO X 3D printer on display. Sharing my observations on the abundance of healthcare companies, Joris van Aken, an Application Engineer at CELLINK, offered his insight into the importance of additive manufacturing in medical research.

“Research is the most important thing to further the standard of healthcare today and additive manufacturing has only driven tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.”

“This is because, in health, every person is not the same. If you break your bone or your body falls ill, it’s different. That’s why I believe that 3D bioprinting has overwhelming potential over other advanced sectors. For, example, using cartilage, we can print something in the shape of an ear specific to an individual. With a CT scan this is able to be custom made- and that’s exactly what healthcare needs – customization.”

“However, I think that we’re not that far from further medical implementation. If a bioprinting process or ink is functional, its FDA approvals and clinical trials that sets us back a few years.”  

Joris van Aken, an Application Engineer at CELLINK next to the BIO X 3D printer. Photo by Tia Vialva.
Joris van Aken, an Application Engineer at CELLINK next to the BIO X 3D printer. Photo by Tia Vialva.

“3D printing in medicine is here”

Moving from medical research to use cases of 3D printing technologies in the healthcare sector, I spoke with Albert Giralt Cadevall, General Manager of AVINENT, a Spanish digital technologies company, who explained how additive manufacturing has become a supporting tool for medical practitioners.

“There are so many disciplines within the healthcare sector; we see this all the time with the work we do with hospitals all over Catalonia. Barcelona has always placed great importance on developing patient care and thanks to additive manufacturing, that is something that is happening today.”

“From metal to resin, 3D printing in medicine is here, and not only in the future.”

“We are a company of 300 people and we mainly work within our domestic market. We have three categories of products from anatomical models to surgical guides to patient-specific implants. The anatomic models go from plastics to resins and some have been made on the Stratasys J750. We also have at our disposal, the EOS M290 machine for metal, patient-specific implants, and the Renishaw AM250 and 3D systems for modeling of resins.

“Now is the time for demand incentivization. The technology, the supply chain, the service bureaus, and hardware are all here. But, from the demand side and the practitioner, something must be done to motivate the growth of that demand. I think there is sometimes a misunderstanding on the business model behind additive manufacturing. This is because of the fashion that 3D printing is now in our day-to-day life – people think they can press a button and get a heart.”

“But I would say that I am realistic about 3D printing. We have the material and the use cases from collaborating with medical data such as CT scans. So, let’s not think about printing a beating heart, but apply what we have already established to improve the overall standard of patient care.”

An anatomical model from Avinent printed on the Stratasys J750. Photo by Tia Vialva.
An anatomical model from Avinent printed on the Stratasys J750. Photo by Tia Vialva.

“Additive manufacturing is equipping the medical sector”

Conversely, Ramon Cortada, Project Coordinator at Arburg S.A.,a German machine manufacturing company, shared a different perspective on healthcare and 3D printing. One that was focused on additive manufacturing hardware used to make medical devices.

“The medical sector is very important for us as it accounts for around half of our customers. In our case, universities and laboratories alike purchase our machines which use Plastic Freeforming (APF) to create implants and hearing devices.”

“Due to this, we can see that additive manufacturing is equipping the medical sector.”

“Our technology is unique as it can use inexpensive qualified standard granulates instead of expensive special materials. This creates functional components from tiny plastic droplets without a mold. From this, many who own our machines have utilized it increase their understanding of health through such models as 3D printed surgical guides. With advanced technologies such as additive manufacturing, time can only tell how healthcare will change for the better.”

Ramon Cortada, Project Coordinator, Arburg S.A holding a 3D printed skeleton of the hand. Photo by Tia Vialva.
Ramon Cortada, Project Coordinator, Arburg S.A holding a 3D printed skeleton of the hand. Photo by Tia Vialva.

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Featured image shows the exterior of the Montjuïc Venue, Barcelona. Photo by Tia Vialva.