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Materialise teams up with Formlabs, Siemens, to bring affordable 3-D printing to hospitals

by Lisa Chamoff, Contributing Reporter | November 29, 2017
3D Printing Business Affairs RSNA
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.”

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.

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