Materialise is probably the most well-known company in the medical 3D printing space, both for medical software and the ability to 3D print patient specific models and implants. And, while it often provides its software, expertise, and 3D printing services, to hospitals, news released today sees the Belgian company actually helping to open a 3D printing center within a hospital itself, Fuwai Hospital, the largest cardiovascular hospital in China.
Signing the agreement in front of Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders and Secretary of State for Foreign Trade Pieter De Crem, among other Belgian officials, Materialise will facilitate the establishment of an multidisciplinary 3D printing center as a means of providing 3D printed clinical planing tools to China’s own medical specialists. Such tools have, in the past, seen doctors prepare for surgeries with patient-specific models, reducing surgery time and, potentially, saving lives. Materialise even has a specific focus on 3D printing heart models, dubbed HeartPrint. The new center, then, could be a huge boon for the cardiovascular hospital.
Materialise Chairman of the Board, Peter Leys, said, upon signing for the Belgian company, “Materialise highly anticipates working closely together with Fuwai Hospital, and Chinese regulatory authorities, to enable doctors and patients to benefit from 3D Printed heart models. Around the world, these heart models have already proven invaluable for the preparation of complex interventions, thereby improving outcomes and in many cases, saving lives. This is especially true for young babies born with heart defects due to the complexity that comes with treating patients so young and delicate.”
President of Fuwai Hospital, Dr. Hu Shengshou, added, “We appreciate the opportunity to work with a company that has 25 years of experience in medical 3D Printing as they help us navigate opportunities and achieve medical 3D Printing goals in a safe, economical and sustainable way. With this collaboration, Fuwai Hospital will become China’s leading center for 3D printed heart model education, spreading knowledge of the technology and how it can be used by surgeons to the benefit of the Chinese public.”
This is exciting news for the lives that may be improved at Fuwai, but also indicates a new business strategy for Materialise, as we may see more such centers open at other hospitals around the world. And that may be good news for patients everywhere.
Correction 6/25/15: A previous version of this post stated that Materialise would be opening their own center in Fuwai Hospital. In actuality, they will only be “working together with Fuwai and Chinese regulatory authorities in the opening of a Fuwai lab.” Materialise will be sharing their knowledge with and providing tools to the hospital. Exciting news nonetheless!