It’s one thing for surgeons and doctors to prepare for medical procedures by studying up ahead of time by reading books and studies and articles, or maybe watching videos of the procedure being performed elsewhere. That’s all well and good, if you’re a visual or auditory learner. But what about the tactile, or kinesthetic, learners? That is, of course, where 3D printing comes into play. There are all sorts of 3D printed medical models available, from patient-specific to extremely realistic, bleeding models. Many hospitals are even adding cutting-edge 3D medical printing suites and departments to their facilities. But there are also plenty of companies out there that specialize in transforming surgery through the use of 3D printed medical models, such as UK-based healthcare technology firm axial3D, which is focused on the global adoption of 3D printing practices in the healthcare industry.
Axial3D, based in Belfast, came on the 3D printing scene in early 2015, and its patient-specific 3D printed medical models can be used to facilitate pre-operative planning, help both patients and doctors better understand ailments, and improve surgical outcomes. The company delivers “personalized anatomical insights” directly to doctors, and its expert in-house services and secure, online ordering have netted axial3D a lot of success since first opening its doors. CEO Daniel Crawford also said that the company has made “significant product advances” during the last year. Axial3D Insight is their intuitive online service, and clinicians around the world are easily able to upload patient scans, order precise anatomical models in minutes, and get the completed model in as little as two days.
The company has partnered with several important healthcare organizations, and major consultants have used axial3D’s bespoke models to develop new surgical techniques by trying out new procedures without the risk of harm. The company has recently experienced a huge surge in demand for its 3D printed patient-specific medical models, following on the heels of a major contract to supply 3D printed pre-operative planning models until 2020, as part of the National Health Service (NHS) Orthopaedic joint replacement products and Trauma and Spinal products framework agreement in Wales and Northern Ireland. With the company’s rapid growth in mind, the firm is opening a new office in the Belfast city center, to provide accommodation for its growing team, which includes three new senior staff members.
Crawford said, “As awareness of the potential of 3D printing in healthcare grows within the clinical community, so too has the demand for our services. As a result, we are thrilled to have three new members to the team, each bringing a proven track record of success in enhancing class-leading solutions, building sustainable partnerships and delivering superior client experience.”
The new team members all bring with them a wealth of knowledge. Cathy Coomber, axial3D’s new operations manager, was a former production controller for Intelesens, another leading medical technology company in Belfast, which is focused on non-invasive monitoring of vital signs. New CTO Niall Haslam will manage the company’s growing R&D team of biomedical and software engineers and drive its technology strategy; he previously held senior software engineering positions in the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and University College Dublin (UCD). Katie McKinley, former head of new business in Europe for digital pathology firm PathXL, will be the head of new business and strategic partnerships, heading up axial3D’s commercial strategy.
“Axial3D is fast becoming the go-to company for clinicians seeking unprecedented insight into their patient’s pathology, far beyond the limits of traditional CT and MRI scans. Having collaborated with our customers and partners, I look forward to further exploration of the full potential of our disruptive 3D printing technology and service,” said McKinley.
Axial3D specializes in 3D printed medical models, and materials, for the following areas of medicine:
- Cardiac: grey, clear, hollow, and split 3D prints
- Trauma: grey, separate, hollow, and white 3D prints
- Orthopedics: white, in situ, hollow, and clear with contrast 3D prints
- Oncology: split, grey, separate, and clear with contrast 3D prints
- Maxillofacial: white, solid, grey, and clear 3D prints
The company’s expert software engineers, 3D printing technicians, and biomedical scientists process each clinician’s 2D DICOM image stacks into 3D printable files, to capture the specific area of interest with a supremely high level of detail. The most appropriate 3D printing technology is used to create a 1:1 scale model of the patient’s anatomy, in the materials that are best suited to the specific medical application. Before the model is shipped to the client through a tracked, fast delivery service, each axial3D print is checked for accuracy, and put through quality control measures.