3D printing business turns to body parts to commercialise medical training
3D-printed human body parts with lifelike bone, skin and muscle densities are being developed in South Australia as teaching aids for surgical training.
The medical devices can also be designed with built-in pathogens such as tumours, bone fractures or defective hearts to allow surgeons and students to practise specific procedures.
An experienced and respected conventional printer in Australia, Mark Roe founded Fusetec 3D in Adelaide in April 2017. After spending time researching in the United States and speaking to surgeons and academics in South Australia, Roe bought a state-of-the-art 3D printer in April 2018.
Roe said that although similar technologies were being used for research and patient specific modelling at universities and medical centres in North America and Europe, his system was the only purely commercial operation of its kind in the world.
“It was hard to get momentum, nobody was really taking us seriously so I had to take a great leap of faith in what I believed would be a good commercial market and buy the equipment with the theory of build it and they will come and that’s pretty much what is happening,” he said.
“We’re starting to get a lot of demand now, most of our demand is coming from export, driven by inquiries from China and the US.
“The main benefit with this machine is we can replicate human tissue density — they can operate on it, they can sew it and they can drill the bones so it simulates a human cadaver.
“You can change density from bone-like to skin-like to muscle-like all in the same print job.”
Fusetec 3D manufactured its first commercial product in May and has so far completed a number of bespoke jobs including dental simulation units for the University of Adelaideand a replica set of four dog’s legs to help veterinary surgeons develop techniques to correct bowlegs.
The company also has Fusetec 2D, which Roe started with John Budgen in 2017 to help provide cash flow for the 3D business by…