Aug 28, 2014
Comments Off on 12 Year Old Bone Cancer Patient Given 3D Printed Spine Implant

12 Year Old Bone Cancer Patient Given 3D Printed Spine Implant

With surgeons in China confirming the successful implantation of a 3D Printed vertebrae into a 12 year old bone cancer patient, it is little wonder that Cambridge based market research company IDTechEx project a 365% growth in Medical 3D Printing by 2025.

Earlier this month doctors at the Peking University Third Hospital successfully completed a first of its kind surgery, when they implanted custom made 3D printed vertebra into a 12 year old bone cancer patient, Minghao. The five hour surgery saw the removal of a tumour located in the second vertebra of the boys neck and its replacement with a 3D-printed implant, with Dr. Glenn Green, who co-designed the implant stating “it has worked just the way we hoped” with Minghao expected to make a strong recovery.

3D Printed Medical Implant - Vertebra

3D Printing facilitates more natural implant integration.

Prior to the surgery Minghao had been lying in the orthopaedics ward of the hospital for more than two months, with the tumours growth preventing him from standing for more than a few minutes at a time. In the past the vertebra would have been replaced by a standardised, hollow titanium tube requiring screws or cement to hold it in place. In addition the patient head would need to be frame by pins after surgery for a minimum of three months to prevent damage to the implant.

3D Printed vertebra is much stronger and more convenient than traditional methods. Deigned based on the patients actual vertebra, tiny holes were made in the implant to allow surrounding bones to grow into the print and secure it in place. The new vertebra spans the entire width of his spine. as opposed to thinner traditional tube, and allows room for nerves to be threaded through while carrying enough strength to support the bone that sits on top of it.  Using 3D Printed technology doctors anticipate a shorter and less inconvenient recovery time that that experienced with traditional implants.


Jul 15, 2014
Comments Off on 3D Printing unlocks wearable technology

3D Printing unlocks wearable technology

Last months post included details on the exoskeleton part developed with 3D printed technology, which enabled a young paraplegic take the ceremonial first kick at the World Cup 2014 opening ceremony, which got us thinking about role of 3D Printing in the development of new wearable technologies with some interesting applications (or at least we thought so..) included below.

Superhuman healing

Winner of the A’Design Award in the 3D Printed Forms and Products Design category, the Osteoid Medical cast claims super human heal times (38% faster)  for broken bones. Designed by Turkish industrial designer Deniz Karasahin, the Osteoid cast, a black lightweight 3D Printed cast featuring latticework design uses an ultrasound device to speed up the healing process.

In addition to offering improved heal times the cast is filled with ventilations holes, freeing wearers from the dreaded itchiness, bulk and smell associated with traditional plaster casts. Still in the concept stages, future adaptation of the cast, could offer patients a more fashion conscious alternative.

While the cast itself may look more fashion accessory than medical cast research published in the Journal of Bone and Join Surgery supports the benefits of  low intensity pulsed ultrasound for healing bone injury. Speaking on the future viability of the Osteoid Cast, world renowned hand surgeon Dr. Michael Hausman suggested wide scale implementation in medicine will be dependent on production costs, as 3D Printing technology would be more expensive than traditional plaster and splint casts.


3D Printed Ring reads to the Blind

Following three years of research a team at MIT have developed a reading device that can be worn on the index finger. The device know as FingerReader features a mounted camera capable of translating either single lines or complete blocks of text into an audio voice in real time. The device while not yet compatible with touch screen devices can translate text across a wide range of media such as books, computers and newspapers, with haptic feedback provided to indicate that the user should move their device to continue reading or to indicate the end of a page.

With some 11.2 million people in the US alone suffering sight problems, the FingerReader is likely to have much wider implications than simply reading a restaurant menu, the device could potentially see visually impaired re-entering the working environment.

A member of the device test group, 62-year-old Jerry Berrier explained that he liked the convenience of the device, stating “any tool that we can get that gives us better access to printed material helps us to live fuller, richer, more productive lives”


Thumbs up for BMW Workers.

Using 3D Printing techniques as part of its product design and development process  for the past 25 years BMW have now turned to 3D Printing to physically augment its car-plant workers, giving them stronger, augmented thumbs. The move aims at reducing strain related injuries and improving efficiencies.

A portable 3D camera is used to capture the unique size and shape of each line workers thumb, with the scan then used to build a thumb guard made of a semi-flexible plastic hybrid material on a Selective Laser Sintering machine. With each structure perfectly fitted to the wearer’s thumb the thumb guard flexes in a closed position and locks into place when the digit is raised in a thumbs up position. When trialed in the companies Munich vehicle assembly plant very positive feedback was received from BMW workers, with the splint effectively resisting strain and spreading the load associated with pushing something like a stiff rubber plug into holes in the car chassis  – something that was causing paint to production-line workers-.

Roll out of this and other schemes to use custom 3D printed apparel to help production and prevent pain and injury are expected within BMW.

Interested in finding out more about 3D Printing and wearable technology? Visit TCT Show + Personalize where Reebok & Under Armour will be presenting for more visit TCT Show + Personalize (while there don’t forget to check out LPE at stand H14)

Jun 19, 2014
Comments Off on 3D Printing takes centre stage at 2014 FIFA World Cup

3D Printing takes centre stage at 2014 FIFA World Cup

With World Cup fever taking over at the LPE office and the use of a partially 3D printed exoskeleton featuring in the opening ceremony it was only a matter of time before we got around to writing a post on 3D Printing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

While 3D printings appearance at the Opening Ceremony may have been brief the $20 million contribution by the Brazilian government to the Andar de Novo(Walk Again Project) was perhaps the most note worthy, as a young paraplegic took the ceremonial first kick with the assistance of 3D printing and bionic technology . Headed by Brazilian neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, the project aims at restoring movement to people who have suffered brain lesions or neuromotor diseases by using their minds to control a exoskeleton which substitutes for the functioning of the lower limbs. The World Cup kick off while symbolic to football fans everywhere has become something much more significant, it has become the first step of a much larger project a project aimed at helping countless paraplegics walk again. (Find out more about the Walk Again Project)

Sporting giant Nike have invested considerably in 3D Printing technology in recent years with an increase in their sporting goods not only designed by also manufacturing using Rapid Prototyping technology. Designed exclusively for its roster of top world cup players, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Neymar Jr. Nike have introduced the Rebento Duffel, a 3D printed performance sports bag. The bag features a 3D Printed that echoes the stud plates on the Magista boot (also designed for the 2014 games) with the lower body also taking cues from the Flyknit pattern on the Magista boot and features Selective Laser Sintering technology. Hand-crafted premium leather upper and straps which seamlessly fits into the base without the need for any glue/adhesive allow for further weight reduction and flexibility. The Rebento also features a custom 3D printed piece of Gold hardware with the player’s name

May 6, 2014
Comments Off on 3D Printing in the Cycling Industry

3D Printing in the Cycling Industry

LS Bike - Selective Laser Sintering

In 2011 EADS, the European Aerospace and Defence group produced Airbike, the worlds first bike built using Additive Layer Manufacturing technology. Produced in Nylon but strong enough to replace steel or aluminium the Airbike was ‘grown’ in one piece using the Selective Laser Sintering (LS) process. With complex designs achievable at no extra cost a range of unique design features were incorporated into the Airbike design such as the auxetic structure to provide saddle cushioning or the integrated bearings encased within the hubs. Despite the technologies capacity to produce complex designs up to 65% lighter than traditional manufacturing techniques, high machine and material costs in 2011 prevented  LS technology from becoming an alternative to traditional manufacturing processes.

The past three years have seen considerable improvements in the range of materials and technologies available, with Rapid Prototyping growing in popularity within the UK cycling industry. In 2012 UK firm Crux Product Design used 3D printing technologies to produce helmets for the Team GB cycling team. Designed to ensure best fit, 3D laser scans were created for each individual athlete with these scans used to develop the 3D CAD data. Rapid Prototyping was used to convert designs into physical prototype models over night. The prototypes were then used as part of the helmet fitting process, giving the athletes complete confidence in final fit and function of their Olympic cycling helmets.

Team GB Cycling Helmet - Rapid Prototyping


Not just a tool for accessory design verification Rapid Prototyping has proven popular in the design verification of various bicycle components. UK based Brompton Bicycle have incorporated 3D printing technology into their product design process with prototype models used for early design verification and product testing of components such as pedals etc.

Earlier this year British bicycle company Empire Cycles created the worlds first 3D printed titanium bike frame. Specialising in the design and manufacture of bikes specifically tailored to the demanding performance requirements of mountain bikers and downhillers, a significant challenge for Empire Cycles was the reduction of overall bike weight, carbon fiber while lighter would be more likely to suffer damage when “chucking yourself down a mountain”. By using 3D printing technology it was possible for all unnecessary materials to be removed allowing for a weight saving of 44% against the original aluminium alloy seat post and a 33% weight saving against the original bike frame, with further weight reductions possible on future design iterations. The use of additive manufacturing technologies allows all the advantages of a pressed steel monocoque construction used in construction of motorbikes and cars, without the need for significant tooling investment.

Worlds First 3D printed Bike


The 3D Printed seat post bracket has been tested using the mountain bike standard EN14766 and not only passed standard by continued to perform without failure to 6 times the standard. Testing of the bicycle and frame will continue both in lab and on mountainside with the project aim to produce a fully functional bicycle.

There are no immediate retail current plans for the Ti Trail Bike however it presents an interesting glimpse into the future of bike manufacturing




Apr 28, 2014
Comments Off on Helping young people design & 3D Print assistive technologies.

Helping young people design & 3D Print assistive technologies.

Hereward 3D is a collaborative project between Hereward College and The University of Warwick funded by The University of Warwick Science Park. This project combines the students at Hereward College expert knowledge of young people using assistive technology with Warwick University’s expert knowledge of 3D printing technologies, with the aim of empowering young people to design and 3D print assistive technologies tailored to their own specific needs.

Since September 2013, staff and student tutors from the WMG and the Department of Computer Science have been working with Hereward students at a weekly workshop. One of the collaborations ongoing projects involves the design and production of a bespoke iPhone Communication Aid Mount for a wheelchair user as shown below.

iPhone mount for wheelchair user developed by Hereward 3D

A proactive project, Hereward 3D shows how 3D Printing technology can be used to improve the quality of life and increase independence for those living with disability. To check out the projects progress visit the Hereward 3D webpage.


Mar 24, 2014
Comments Off on Could Selective Laser Sintering hold the future for athletic footwear design?

Could Selective Laser Sintering hold the future for athletic footwear design?

Much has changed since the first Modern Olympics was held in Athens, Rome in 1896. From a private funded, little publicized event the Olympics has grown in popularity to become a highly anticipated sporting event with some 200 nations competing  across the various events.

Fierce competition within the running events means victory is often won by seconds rather than minutes, for example the men’s 100 meter dash, with approximately 2% of a percentage difference separating current record holder Usain Bolt and 5th ranked fastest runner of all time Nesta Carter. Therefore shaving just 3.5 % off a runners time can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

French engineering and design student, Luc Fusaro aims to provide runners with the key to  unlocking this 3.5 second difference, a 3D Printed running show branded “Designed to Win”.

Unlike existing custom footwear where slight changes to material or spikes allow for cosmetic customization, it is at a structural level the customization occurs for the “Designed to Win” footwear. Scans are taken as the athlete performs  a number of different athletic feat such as jumping off a box or running with these scans then used to tweak performance of the shoe. Once tweaks have been finalized the shoe is then build layer by layer in a Nylon powder using the Selective Laser Sintering (LS) process.

The resulting shoe weighs just 96 grams, making it the lightest racing shoe to  date (the super light Nike Mayfly weights 136 grams). Currently Fusaro is tweaking to pattern of the material to achieve the required level of flexibility. With the structure all about functionality the gold coating and spikes ensure the final product will look really neat. Fusaro hopes to debut fully functional “Designed to Win” footwear in 2016.


Feb 10, 2014
Comments Off on UK Surgeon performs 1st of a kind 3d printed pelvis implant

UK Surgeon performs 1st of a kind 3d printed pelvis implant

Surgeon Craig Gerrand with model of pelvis

Surgeon Craig Gerrand with model of pelvis

Using 3D printing technology Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Craig Gerrand helped patient who lost half of his pelvis to bone cancer walk again.

The 60 year old male patient was diagnosed with a rare bone tumor known as chondrosarcoma.  This form of cancer, which affected virtually the entire right hand side of the patients pelvis, does not respond to drugs or radiotherapy leaving the only option to surgically remove the affected area. With so much bone affected there would be nothing left to which a standard hand made implant could be attached leading to Craig Gerrand offering his patient an extraordinary reconstructive innovation; to 3D print an custom made implant in titanium which would be designed to form a perfect fit into the space left by the surgery. The implant then covered in a mineral into which the remaining bone cells could grow. Speaking on the surgery Gerrand stated that the patient was aware of the risks including the implant not fitting properly or fracturing  before opting in to the surgery.

Meticulous planning was required to provide the greatest chance of success. CT and MRI scans of the pelvis were fused to calculate precise dimensions for the space to remain and the quantity of bone to be removed. Using this data it was possible to produce a bespoke 3D printed model of the half pelvis, which provided an exact dimensional match to the bone lost by the patient. Following the creation of the implant surgery proceeded with Gerrand utilising surgical navigation technology to ensure the bone was cut exactly where planned. Once the bone was removed the titanium implant was fitted, followed by a standard hip replacement which fitted seamlessly into the titanium socket.

Just over three years on the patient is able to walk with the aid of a stick and is still very happy with his 3D printed implant.

Jan 7, 2014
Comments Off on Tornado fighter jets fly with 3D printed parts.

Tornado fighter jets fly with 3D printed parts.

Earlier this week defence company, BAE Systems announced the successful test flight of a RAF Tornado fighter jet, which featured 3D Printed components.

The metal components which included protective covers for cockpit radios and guards for power take-off shafts are to form production components for four squadrons of Tornado GR4 Aircraft at the RAF Marham base in Norfolk. With some components costing less than £100 it is hoped that 3D Printing technology could cut the RAF maintenance and service bill by over £1.2 million in the next four years.

Speaking on the implications of 3D Printing technology on manufacturing, head of airframe integration at BAE Systems, Mike Murray stated;

“You are suddenly not fixed in terms of where you have to manufacture these things. You can manufacture the products at whatever base you want, providing you can get a machine there, which means you can also start to support other platforms such as ships and aircraft carriers. And if it’s feasible to get machines out on the front line, it also gives improved capability where we wouldn’t traditionally have any manufacturing support”

With both US space agency NASA and the defence sector looking at the long term manufacturing capabilities of 3D Printing technology we can expect to see significant developments in 3D Printing as a tool for manufacturing in the coming years.

Dec 9, 2013
Comments Off on For the one who a everything …3D Print yourself

For the one who a everything …3D Print yourself

Everyone has a least one on their Christmas list, that hard-to-buy for person who already has everything. This year why not surprise them with something truly unique, a 3D printed replica figurine of yourself.

How do you get your hands on one, simply visit the  iMakr pop-up shop in London Selfridges where a mechatronic engineer will guide you through the 3D scanning and printing process. Customers are requested to step inside the 3D-Scanning booth where 40 or so cameras positioned at various angles and levels create 3D Data for print which will then be recreated on an iMakr printer. Customers are advised of certain print limitations for example issues recreating splayed fingers and curly hair.

Allowing loved ones to hold a miniature version of yourself in there hands does not however come cheap with a mini-me figurine likely to set you back £159.


Alternatively with iMakr printers starting at £699 you could treat yourself to your very own 3D Printer a create a mini-me army.

Sep 27, 2013
Comments Off on Digital Grotesque – the new face of architecture.

Digital Grotesque – the new face of architecture.

3D Printed Digital Grotesque


Entering into the grand 16 square meters of “Digital Grotesque” you could easily mistake it for the intricate interior of a Baroque cathedral in fact what stands before you is the first ever “fully immersive, solid, human-scale enclosed structure entire 3D printed out of sand.

Designed and developed by Swiss architects Michael Hansmeyer and Benjamin Dillenburger, the 11 tonne structure exhibits an impressive 260 million surfaces with a layer resolution of 0.13mm.

Speaking on the projects website the team describe the project as “neither foreign nor familiar” as it straddles both chaos and order  and the natural and artificial. The building was not created by traditional design methods rather by an algorithm which at its most basic level gradually refines and enriches a simple input form. Their website stated “any reference to nature or existing styles are not integrated into the design process, but are evoked only as associations in the eye of the beholder”

The project took 13 months to complete with the entire structure built in just one month! Less concerned with functionality than with the expressive formal potentials of digital technologies, the work of Hansmeyer and Dillenburger examines the spatial experiences and sensations that these technologies enable.

Watch the video below

Digital Grotesque . Printing Architecture from Digital Grotesque on Vimeo.