myReflection, a New Zealand-based medical start-up, is developing personalized breast prostheses for cancer patients post-mastectomy, using 3D scanning and 3D printed molds.
The prostheses are made from a 3D torso scan and are designed with an inner core and an ISO-certified outer silicone. Jason Barnett, Chief Technology Officer and head of myReflection’s research and development, explained:
“Traditional prostheses don’t tend to last that long, so there’s a real concern when you start to see your generic prosthesis slowly deteriorate, knowing you might have to buy the next one out of your own pocket.”
“The material we use for our prostheses is very stable, elastic and tear-resistant so it can last the four years, but it depends on the user. Ultimately, each prosthesis is made to be usable and loseable, and it’s about giving these women a sense of confidence.”
3D printed breast prostheses
Tim Carr, Director of myReflection, began exploring 3D printing for the creation of a breast prosthesis in 2015 after his partner Fay Cobbett was diagnosed with breast cancer. Following a mastectomy or the surgical removal of one or both breasts, Cobbett chose to wear prosthetics rather than have reconstructive surgery.
Nevertheless, the prosthesis, which fit into a specially-made mastectomy bra, was found to be uncomfortable, heavy, and hard to maintain due to its delicate nature. As a result, the couple sought to create a lightweight, custom-fit breast prosthesis with a soft inner core that molded into the body without gaps or pressure points. This model does not require a specialized bra.
Finding the 3D printed molds as a method successful to create the alternative prosthesis, the couple established myReflections in February 2019 to treat women post-mastectomy. Thus far, the company is offering 3D scanning consultation in Auckland only, and a 3D printed prosthetic is priced as NZ$613 (US$408). myReflection is aiming to produce 320 units sold in a month (approximately $196,000).
Additive manufacturing tackles breast cancer
As well as 3D printed breast prostheses, elsewhere researchers in France have used additive manufacturing to create breast implants for cancer reconstruction surgery. In South Africa, iMed Tech, has introduced the Neyne range of 3D printed external breast prostheses in a range of skin tones.
Furthermore, to detect breast cancer, researchers from the University of Twente (UT) in the Netherlands, developed the 3D printed Stormram 4 robotic detector to identify cancerous cells within a patient.
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Featured image shows a 3D printed prosthesis. Photo via myReflection.