3D Printers

Proof X: Helping Surgeons, Patients, and Researchers with Innovative 3D Printing Services

Chicago Ideas Week takes place October 13-19 at the Health Technology Innovation Incubator in Chicago.  Featuring a wide range of topics and a variety of speakers including: Deepak Chopra, George Lucas, David Axelrod, Captain James Lovell and Charlie Rose among many others.

It also features Proof X, an innovative 3D printing service that wants to “become the FedEx/Kinko’s of the medical community”, according to Dima Elissa, Co-founder and CEO.  Dima brings a wide range of experience to Proof X, from serving as a STEM steering committee member for the Aparecio Foundation, leading Visual Media Inc. as CEO, as well as having many positions (International Marketing, General Management, Business Development, Mergers and Acquisitions) at NutraSweet .  The other three team members are comprised of Nuha Nazy (COO), the owner of Right Source Document Services, which provides document services to corporate and government entities, Keith Earl Weber II (Innovation Engineer), a well known speaker and presenter in the maker and entrepreneurial scene in Chicago, and Thomas Most (Medical Modeler and Prosthetics Specialist), who is considered by many to be a pioneer in rapid prototyping and 3D printing prosthetics.

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3D printed fibula with vasculature for jaw implant

ProofX Bio FabLab is using 3D printing to explore innovative and imaginative approaches to biomedical research and patient care.  The team at Proof X produces patient-specific replicas of anatomies, custom-printed orthotics and prosthetics, and medical devices, such as custom surgical instruments.  Proof X is self-funded for now, but they are entertaining VC funding and angel investors.  If you look at the Proof X portfolio, you will see some of their applications with a brief explanation.

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Component Parts of a Rat MRI machine

For example, Proof X successfully printed an articulating, patient-specific spine for a pedicle operation. The print was used to guide for the surgeon during the operation, where 17 pedicle screws and connecting bars were carefully positioned and inserting into the patient’s spine.

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Surgical Guide for Pedicle Procedure

Proof X was also able to print out a surgical planning tool of a patient’s exploded hip (ouch).  The print allowed the surgeon to “identify the bone fragments in relation to other parts of the body. “ This allowed the surgeon to view the hip while keeping the relative position of 13 bone fragments in place.

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Surgical Planning Tool for Exploding Hip

But does Proof X only serve the medical industry with their Makerbot and Connex printers? Not at all.  Besides having the coolest name in the industry, they also converted mesh files to print out Hollow Man for David Dorman, one of the original illustrators of the Star Wars movie, for his graphic novel series, Wasted Lands.

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Hollow Man

Medical Applications involving the use of 3D printing, scanning and software (Reality Computing, if you ask Autodesk) have been indicated as one of the most important forces driving the rapid adoption of the technology by the Wohler’s report, Markets and Markets, Gartner’s Hype Cycle and 3D Printing Industry.   By now, regular readers will be familiar with success stories involving patient-specific prosthetics and customized orthotics applications.   One of the biggest challenges to any company in the medical field is complying with intricate and potentially challenging regulations.  Similarly, the 3D printing industry as a whole, is reaching a point at which certain regulations are being discussed and implemented (i.e Philadelphia) but have to be carefully counterbalanced by the open-source ethos that not only brought it into being, but continues to encourage widespread innovation.