Open defect to the right side of a skull with fitting 3D-printed PEEK implant next to it

3D printing in hospitals: How to make it work

To avoid medical device shortages and bring outstanding benefits to patients, 3D printing is a resource-efficient solution

Especially in times of crisis like these, hospitals and research institutes learn how important reliable supply chains are and where shortages arise. The additive manufacturing of medical products on-site can bring relief. Since 2015, the Kumovis team is specialized in medical 3D printing, or more precisely, in the reproducible high-quality processing of high-performance polymers into medical products. The materials are rarely used for masks to protect against covid-19 infections, but they are ideally suited for 3D printing in hospitals.

Campus and hospitals will thus become more independent of partly global supply chains and can further advance individualized treatment of patients. So what exactly do hospitals need to manufacture medical devices in-house using additive technology?

5 examples of 3D printing in hospitals

Oral and maxillofacial surgery, neurosurgery and orthopedics – just three of the fields in which 3D printing can be used at the point of care. In brachytherapy, healthcare also benefits from 3D-printed medical products. Important applications are:

  1. Individualized cranial plates
  2. Resection guides for corrective osteotomy
  3. Osteosynthesis material (partly resorbable) that meets the requirements
  4. Guides for tumor surgery
  5. Individualized instruments like hooks or spreaders

The Kumovis R1 3D printers enable their users to process more than ten medical-grade materials in a safe and reproducible way. Polyether ether ketone, PEEK for short, is one of the best-known.

Resorbable materials are also being used increasingly in the additive manufacturing of individualized medical products. Kumovis is setting new standards in this area as well: With the Kumovis R1, manufacturers are able to maintain only about nine percent IV loss through the highly-controlled processing of resorbable materials.

Kumovis R1: The requirements

To operate the 3D printer, users need about one square meter (eleven square feet) of space. With its design, Kumovis thus enables hospitals with very limited room capacities to use the R1 at the point of care. Further requirements are compressed air and high-voltage current.

The additive manufacturing in hospitals only works in combination with industry-specific hardware and software in order to develop instruments and implants for the patient and to design them based on patient-specific data. In addition, hospitals require sufficient space for storing respectively drying or cooling the materials that are currently not used during 3D printing. Moreover, a workstation is needed to finish build parts as required. Recommendation: A standard laboratory table fulfils its purpose as basic equipment.

Who operates the 3D printer?

With the R1, Kumovis has introduced an open 3D printing system to the market which meets the high requirements of the medical community. This means in practice: manufacturer-independent use of materials thanks to exchangeable filament spools, stainless steel surfaces for clinically necessary deep cleaning, process reliability by making use of the industrial monitoring and documentation options.

Physician operating the Kumovis R1 3D printing system via its integrated touch panel
Temperature management is key to better layer adhesion

Despite the intuitive operation, training is required for the personnel who operate the 3D printer. Kumovis will gladly provide educations and training within the scope of the installation on-site. Of course, if required, services such as application-oriented consulting after or before the installation and on-site support by Kumovis engineers can also be part of the offer.

Reliable partner for medical 3DP

Quality management is an important topic. And with the application of the Medical Devices Regulation, it is gaining even more importance. Kumovis has been growing with the conditions of the framework since its foundation and is happy to support hospitals as well as medical device companies on their way to regulatory compliant 3D printing.

Be it medical product design or 3D printing in hospitals, we are looking forward to your inquiries and are happy to support you as your dedicated partner along the way.