14 Jun 2017
Pioneering 3D technology company, 3D LifePrints, has claimed May’s Merseyside Innovation Award for the use of 3D printing within the healthcare industry.
Based in the Innovation Hub at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool and serving a number of other trusts in the region, 3D LifePrints are working directly with clinicians to design and manufacture personalised synthetic replicas of patients’ organs to help surgeons practice lifesaving operations.
The collaborative relationship of 3D LifePrints and Alder Hey sees the company produce anatomical models from patient scan data to exacting specifications. The models allow surgeons to plan and simulate procedures, have a reference point during surgery and be used as a communication tool when explaining surgery to patients and their families. The models are also used as training devices so that single model can benefit a hospital several times.
Now expanding within the medical arena, 3D LifePrints was founded in Kenya in 2013 by Paul Fotheringham and Michael Richard, supplying 3D printed prosthetics for humanitarian purposes. After being introduced to co-founder and CEO, Henry Pinchbeck, manufacturing was moved to Liverpool and 3D LifePrints as a commercial venture began.
Operating from ‘hubs’, which act as both a design/manufacturing base as well as sales portal and with plans to expand nationally, 3D LifePrints’ is able to foster innovation through the identification of new applications of 3D printing. This way of working has allowed its in-house team of designers, engineers and scientists to assist and develop medical research both within Merseyside and across the rest of the UK.
“The potential for 3D printing within the medical sector is massive and is a direct route to the provision of personalised healthcare,” said Henry
3D LifePrints work with a wide range of organisations to bring personalised medical services to the wider market including the NHS, private hospitals, universities and medical training centres.
“We innovate on a daily basis through our direct contact with clinicians. However the basis for the innovation is a business model which embeds 3D LifePrints within the hospital so as to be as close as possible to the clinical teams. Through our work with surgeons, we are able to create bespoke models on-site within 12 to 30 hours of request.
“This collaborative process begins by scanning the affected organ usually by CT or MRI – but which in some cases for external features can be done simply on hand held scanner or iPhone – meaning clinicians are no longer restricted by generic devices and treatments, the outcome is a custom-made solution.”
The technology is already in place for a great number of applications including the creation of 3D printed implants, facial prosthetics and orthopaedic cutting guides, the application of 3D printing is truly limitless.
Henry added: “Through constant collaboration, design innovation and feedback from clinicians and patients alike, our offering is growing rapidly and we have plans to become an educational hub offering trainee medical students, across Merseyside, a safe environment to practice and enhance their skills.
What is most satisfying is that our services have made a difference to both the surgeon and patient. The ideal would obviously be to have a bespoke solution created for each and every case.”
Anne Donnelly, Business Development Manager of long-time MIA sponsor, the University of Liverpool, said: “The adaptive nature of 3D LifePrints models are astounding and are already making a huge impact on how certain surgeries are approached at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
“This truly is an exciting step for the medical industry and Merseyside as a whole. With design and manufacturing all based at the hospital, the potential for growth is immeasurable and seemingly unstoppable.”