Medical & Dental

New 3D printing MedTech advances from Shapeways, 4D Biomaterials and TechMed 3D

3D printing is being increasingly leveraged for a wide array of applications within the medical sector, such as biomedical implants, surgical planning instruments, anatomical models, and patient scanning, to mention just a few.

A recent flurry of innovations in this area has come to light from MedTech firm 4D Biomaterials, 3D printing service provider Shapeways, and 3D scanning software firm TechMed 3D.

Over the past week, 4D Biomaterials has completed a £1.6 million funding round that will enable it to develop a range of 3D printed medical devices and implants, while Shapeways has become the exclusive 3D printing manufacturer for 3D medical modeling specialist Armor Bionics. TechMed 3D has also partnered with mobile 3D scanning firm Occipital to meet the healthcare industry’s scan-to-fabrication needs.

4D Biomaterials's 4Degra printed in a honeycomb structure. Photo via 4D Biomaterials.
4D Biomaterials’s 4Degra printed in a honeycomb structure. Photo via 4D Biomaterials.

4D Biomaterials completes £1.6 million funding round

Having developed a new biomaterial used for 3D printing medical implants, 4D Biomaterials has now closed a $1.6 million funding round led by DSW Ventures and backed by the MEIF Proof of Concept & Early Stage Fund managed by Mercia, alongside existing investor SFC Capital. The funding will be used to develop a range of products through partnerships with medical device companies, and will also help the company to expand its team. 

The company’s biomaterial, 4Degra, has been developed for more than 15 years in Professor Andrew Dove’s research group at the University of Warwick and University of Birmingham. 4D Biomaterials was created as a spin-out company last year, claiming 4Degra to be the only 3D printable material of its type that is also biodegradable.

“I am delighted to welcome DSW Ventures and Mercia on board at this exciting time for the company,” said Phil Smith, CEO of 4D Biomaterials. “The raise was oversubscribed by 60 percent, helped by the continuing support of SFC Capital and our angel investors. This puts us in a strong position as we move into the next phase of taking our products to market.”

Mercia has a strong investment track record in the healthcare sector, having previously supported the likes of prosthetics technology firm Adapttech, wound care specialist NuVision, and spinal condition treatment developer Locate Bio

“4D biomaterials is pioneering a new generation of biomaterials that offers benefits for patients and the health service alike,” added David Baker, Investment Manager at Mercia.

“Not only could they speed up healing and remove the need for follow-on surgery, whether for tissue reconstruction or to remove the original implant. The funding will enable the company to find partners worldwide.”

3D printed cardiac model. Photo via Armor Bionics.
3D printed cardiac model. Photo via Armor Bionics.

Shapeways inks 3D printing deal with Armor Bionics

In other news, Shapeways has become the exclusive 3D printing manufacturer for Armor Bionics. The service provider will 3D print complex medical models for Armor Bionics that are designed to transform procedures used for pre-planning surgeries. 

Based on patient CT scans and MRIs, the models will be personalized to each individual patient, allowing for more accurate diagnosis, treatment and improved surgical planning procedures. 3D printing the models is expected to significantly reduce the time surgeons spend in the operating room and shorten the recovery times for patients. The models will also help surgeons to anticipate potential complications during surgery.

“When we received the first model from Shapeways, it was absolutely perfect,” said Bruno Demuro, Co-founder and CEO of Armor Bionics. “Always being very thorough, means we measured the size of every bone to find out how accurate the first 3D printed model was. In comparison to the 3D design we had sent, it was flawless, which is essential since there is no room for error in the procedures for which the technique is used.”

The agreement between the companies comes shortly after the announcement of Shapeways’ latest financials. The company’s revenue grew by 11 percent during Q1 2021, ahead of its $605 million merger with SPAC Galileo Acquisition (GLEO).

Occipital has integrated support for its Structure Sensor Pro into TechMed 3D’s software suite. Image via TechMed 3D.
Occipital has integrated support for its Structure Sensor Pro into TechMed 3D’s software suite. Image via TechMed 3D.

Occipital and TechMed 3D partner for mobile healthcare 3D scanning 

Elsewhere, Occipital has integrated support for its all-new Structure Sensor Pro into TechMed 3D’s software suite. Through their partnership, the two companies are seeking to meet demanding scan-to-fabrication needs within the healthcare industry.

The combined offering will enable healthcare professionals to connect a Structure Sensor Pro scanner to an Apple iPad or iPhone, and then capture precise 3D models of patients’ body parts in less than a minute. 

Occipital’s Structure Sensor Pro is specifically designed for the healthcare sector, equipped with an industrial-grade manufacturing and calibration process. The scanner is more accurate than previous models, and is also more reliable and consistent. The Structure Sensor Pro is fully integrated into TechMed 3D’s suite of software apps, including its 3DsizeMe app which is capable of exporting models in a variety of industry-standard formats, such as stl and obj.

“Occipital has become the de facto standard for our industry,” said Michel Babin, President at TechMed 3D. “The Structure Sensor Pro brings a new level of speed, accuracy and reliability for portable 3D scanning in healthcare – without the need for a tethered computer. It’s ideal for a variety of applications including orthotics, prosthetics, compression garments, spinal braces and custom footwear.

“The resulting 3D models can be easily modified for prescriptions and sent to manufacturing with CAD/CAM or 3D printing systems.”

TechMed 3D recently teamed up with 3D printer and scanner manufacturer Shining 3D to offer an all-in-one hardware and software body scanning combination. The latter’s EinScan H 3D scanner is offered with TechMed 3D’s MSoft scanning software with the goal of better serving those in the orthotics and prosthetics markets.

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Featured image shows 4D Biomaterials’s 4Degra printed in a honeycomb structure. Photo via 4D Biomaterials.