In 2016, when I co-authored the first edition of ” A Roadmap from Idea to Implementation: 3D Printing for Pre-Surgical Application: Operational Management for 3D Printing in Surgery”, focusing on a systematic thinking process to address these questions by evaluating components of operational management with Michelle Gabriel. However, selling a book is not going to accelerate adaption, instead, I decided to publish this book as a regularly updated online version of 3DHEALS Guide in five digestible parts, focusing on and adding new information from field experts from all over the world to provide a foundation to any early adapters. The first time I learned about 3D printing (a.k.a. additive manufacturing ) for pre-surgical planning was in 2012 during RSNA (Radiological Society of North America) in Chicago. As a small box containing pieces of a 3D-printed heart from a pediatric patient was passed around the conference room, I could tell that the room stopped breathing. For me, it was a sensational moment as a radiologist and as a healthcare provider. Having a patient’s disease in three-dimension in my hands was unimaginable. I immediately wanted to learn more about the technology and how I, as a radiologist, could use it to help my clinical colleagues. However, to me, the road to implementation was not simple and almost obscure. The barrier to entry for such technology seems to require one to be a combination of a designer, a mechanical engineer, and a software developer, and lastly a healthcare provider.
J: Hi! Chris, thanks for taking some time with the 3DHEALS audience for this interview. Can you tell us a little about yourself? C: I am a dentist by trade with a few qualifications including a bachelor of Dental Science with honours and a bachelor of science in biochemistry and physiology from the University of Queensland…
Want to write a piece for 3DHEALS Expert Corner? Email us: email@example.com Based on our recent publication (A Roadmap from Idea to Implementation – 3D Printing for Pre-Surgical Applications) we will publish a series of shorter blogs based on the topics presented in the book to share the essential elements of the book to the public….
Want to write a piece for 3DHEALS Expert Corner? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org As companies continue to innovate, they are turning to 3D printing technology to build customized, patient-matched 3D printed dental and medical devices that incorporate biocompatible materials. Advances in 3D printing technology have made it possible to print human tissue using a combination of stem…
Want to write a piece for 3DHEALS Expert Corner? Email us: email@example.com At the US Dept of Veterans Affairs (VA), there is a small but growing group of clinicians seeking to incorporate 3D printing and the larger arena of digital design and fabrication into clinical care. As the largest integrated healthcare provider in the US, the…
Photo credit: NASA
This series of blogs was originally inspired by Elon Musk’s recent Mars speech. Although Elon and his team at SpaceX may very well succeed in sending pieces of electronics and team of robots to Mars successfully within the claimed timeframe, I think it is crucial to re-think space medicine to make manned “Mars expedition” an actually meaningful goal.
Part 1 of this series discusses why it is important to think about space expedition seriously for humanity’s future, and explains how 3D printing in healthcare carries equally paramount weight for our future and for this ambitious goal.
While few of us had the opportunity to space travel in their lifetime (me included), it is clear to most that the major healthcare challenges in space traveling are the following based on our past experiences: [Ref 1-4]
a. Negative effects on human body in Microgravity
b. Spacecraft as a highly confined and controlled chamber
c. Limited resources for medical care and recovery onboard
d. Lack of scientific evidence on the effect of long duration inflight human survival and morbidity
Figure 1 is a compiled graph on the medical conditions encountered during in flight medical events from 1981 to 1998 for the American astronauts (STS1-STS89). Mind you that these incidences happened on super healthy individuals who had the most positive attitude towards space exploration when signed up for the adventure.
Therefore, Elon’s conclusions that a) Mars trip will be deadly (based on current space healthcare technologies), and b) he himself would not partake the trip are 100% correct.
Thus, before we can seriously think about “Zero-g pizza and games”, let’s seriously think about how 3D printing (and bioprinting) can potentially save lives and help out with challenges facing human expedition to the deep space: [Ref 5]
a. 3D printing allows for significantly increased supply in missing, damaged, and out-of-date parts inflight. Currently, even for ISS, it takes months to supply these parts. Besides the cost to produce and ship, in medical situations, missing parts can be deadly in a confined chamber like a spaceship. Having digital manufacture onboard, the crew will not only have on-demand medical equipment (from forceps to robotic parts) in a timely fashion; they will also have the most up-to-date equipment from the Earth control station as their long journey continues. The combination of telemedicine/remote diagnosis and digital manufacture will prove crucial to keep a sizable crew alive to destination.
b. 3D printing will improve onboard nutrition. Can you imaging eating pizza or potatoes for 30 days? Or anything for 30 days or longer? With an onboard food 3D-printer, the crew can enjoy a much larger selection of on-demand foods that will meet the nutrition requirements, not only depending on where they are during the journey but also depending on the crew’s variable health conditions at a specific point in time during the journey.
c. 3D printing and bioprinting will allow for more space medical research. The lack of biomedical research in space is evident and is a major barrier to a true human expedition into the deep space. (Who in their right minds want to go on a 100% deadly adventure?) However, with the increasingly available 3D printing/bioprinting technologies, having human like tissues and simulation biological devices such as “Organ-on-a Chip” [Ref 6]will allow for more space biomedical research at significant lower human risk and cost.
d. Bioprinting may allow for direct inflight wound care and beyond. Lead by companies such as Organovo, direct tissue repair and organ replacement using bioprinting are not just excerpts from science fictions but tangible solutions to humanity in the next few decades. In combination with other areas of “precision medicine”, 3D printing/bioprinting will make Mars colonization a reality for us humans, and not just robots.
Join 3DHEALS 2017 Global Conference for more discussions on Healthcare 3D Printing at UCSF Mission Bay Campus.
- “Space Medicine” http://www.spacesafetymagazine.com/spaceflight/space-medicine/
- “Space Medicine” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_medicine
- 6 Ways Medicine in Space is Completely Different from on Earty.http://time.com/3937912/space-medicine-lindgren/
- Aerospace Medicine. http://www.nasa.gov/
- Organ-on-a-Chip http://wyss.harvard.edu/viewpage/461/
Raise your hand if you have seen Elon Musk’s recent presentation on Mars expedition and eventual colonization. If not, I highly recommend watching it.
I was very skeptical when I first heard about his plan.
Actually, I was a little enraged. With all the problems and sufferings we have on Earth, why bother tackling a problem so remote and so fantastic? What is so meaningful about that?
After watching Elon’s presentation, however, I had a change of heart. It was quite inspiring.
While I don’t think Elon’s plan for Mars is comprehensive enough to be successful (and safe) yet, I echo his starting point for taking on this ambitious task. ( Part 2 of this blog will explore how 3D printing and bio-printing could make the trip safer.)
“Why go anywhere?” Elon asked. This is not necessarily a rhetoric question, because to some (myself included), the answer may not be all that clear.
The true motivation behind expedition is often beyond personal gain and curiosity. There is a deeper kind of driving force. It is the driving force that inspired our ancestors to invent tools and to discover fire millions of years ago. It is the driving force that enabled us to land the moon and to discovered nuclear power. We have this driving force because that is who we are, and that is what gives humanity meaning. It is a force that comes from our deepest desire to survive for as long and as much as possible as a species.
I see similar driving force propelling the healthcare 3D printing industry forward despite uncertainties, challenges, and criticisms. I feel privileged and encouraged to be able to observe and facilitate the birth of an impactful ecosystem that is slowly forming around us.
Want to write a piece for 3DHEALS Expert Corner? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org Aging in the Era of 3D Printing (And Bioprinting)This post is inspired by my recent presentation at a Silicon Vikings event “Aging in the Era of Digital Health”.Aging. Yes. Ugh.This topic can be more profound, controversial, and philosophical to most than technical, but since…
Want to write a piece for 3DHEALS Expert Corner? Email us: email@example.com 3D Printing in Dentistry: From a Broken Tooth to Digital RevolutionNancy calls me at 1:30, “I just ate an olive pit and cracked my tooth. A big chunk of it is gone, it hurts and is really sharp against my tongue”. Nancy arrives at…