by Lisa Chamoff
, Contributing Reporter | November 29, 2017
CHICAGO — A few industry leaders are collaborating in an effort to allow hospitals to start in-house 3-D printing labs in a cost-effective way.
Materialise, a 27-year-old company that provides 3-D printing software and services, announced at the 2017 RSNA annual meeting that it has teamed up with printer manufacturer Formlabs to bundle the Formlabs Form 2 printers with the Materialise Mimics inPrint medical imaging software, which converts medical images into the file format needed for 3-D printing.
“We’re coming together to show institutions that you can get into [3-D printing] at a price-conscious place,” Bryan Crutchfield, vice president and general manager for North America at Materialise, told HCB News during a meeting at the show. “You don’t have to go for the big-volume, high-speed, commercial-level printers that cost several hundred thousand dollars and have a lot of specialized equipment that goes along with them to do the post-processing. You can get into at an a very affordable price and begin to prove those use cases inside of your institution.”
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Hospitals can use the printers to create anatomical models for surgery planning and patient education. Crutchfield said the price point for the Formlabs/Materialise bundle is in the $10,000 to $30,000 range.
Virginia Goble, vice president of marketing and strategy for Materialise, told HCB News that clinicians often don’t know all that is involved in setting up an in-house 3-D printing lab.
“A lot of time the end user doesn’t realize they need software to get a good print,” Goble said. “They think, ‘I’m going to buy a printer,’ and then they go to print and it doesn’t work. So, this is a way to avoid that.”
Materialise is also partnering with Siemens Healthineers, allowing the Mimics inPrint medical imaging software to be available through the Siemens syngo.via multi-modality reading solution, directly incorporating the software into the hospital’s workflow.
“By incorporating 3-D technology into syngo.via, we jointly support the entire workflow from patient diagnosis to therapy planning,” said Valentin Ziebandt, head of marketing at the Syngo business line at Siemens Healthineers, in a statement announcing the partnership. “This is a cost-effective way to increase the clinical capabilities of syngo.via and an important step toward achieving personalized care and precision medicine.”
Crutchfield said in-house 3-D printing programs can help facilities save time. Materialise does custom printing for hospitals, but in-house labs provide for a faster turnaround.
“It’s interesting to watch all of the unique applications they’re able to come up with,” Crutchfield said.
One barrier to adoption is that there’s no FDA reimbursement for 3-D printing. Materialise has partnered with RSNA as a member of the 3-D Printing Special Interest Group. Anecdotally, clinicians have said they save 30 to 40 minutes of savings when using 3-D printed guides in orthopedic surgery.
“The ultimate goal is proving that 3-D printing does save time, save money, and improves patient outcomes, which will lead to reimbursement,” Crutchfield said.