Royal College of Surgeons - Interview with Sean Peel

As the use of computer aided design and additive manufacturing in the production of patient specific implants becomes more common place in the UK NHS, we’ve taken time to reflect on this trend. 

Sean Peel was recently interviewed by the Royal College of Surgeons to provide his perspective of this rapidly developing industry.  You can read the free to download article here.  

Another article in the Royal College bulletin, 'The history of 3D printing in healthcare' also mentions the work of CARTIS.  



ADT UK Workshop

With the ADT UK Workshop fast approaching, it may be time to consider travel and accommodation.  Loughborough University benefits from a range of options:

The budget option:



There is also a Travelodge and Premier Inn in Loughborough town.


Details on the event location can be found here:

Please feel free to contact Dominic Eggbeer or click here to find out more about the workshop and travel.  


CARTIS Partner PDR Introduces Online DICOM Data Delivery

We’re now a few weeks into using the Image Exchange Portal (IEP) that enables the UK NHS to send us DICOM data securely over the internet.  The process is significantly more efficient than posting encrypted CDs and also offers extra security and traceability. 

It is also improving our ability to undertake urgent cases.  We can now collaborate on cases the same day as the patient is scanned if required.  In some cases, this means that we can fabricate a model or custom guide overnight, ready for dispatch the next day. 

If your hospital is connected to the IEP, a small additional form must be completed before you can send data to us.  Instructions can be found here

Please contact Dominic Eggbeer for further details.


CARTIS Welcomes First Minister of Wales Rt. Hon Carwyn Jones AM 

L-R: Sean Peel (Design & Research Engineer - PDR), Rt. Hon Carwyn Jones AM, Gavin Cawood (Director - PDR), Emily Bilbie (Surgical & Prosthetic Design Technician - PDR)

We were very pleased this week to welcome the Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones, to PDR along with his guest, Jeremy Cliffe - journalist at The Economist. The visit was at the First Minister’s request to see the work of the CARTIS team first-hand - who have recently made headlines around the world following pioneering work using 3D printing and computer planning in reconstructive surgery.   

Also present to welcome the visitors were Adrian Sugar and Peter Evans of Morriston hospital in Swansea who, in addition to collaborating on the design and performing the surgery for this recent case, have worked in close partnership with the team at PDR for over sixteen years.  This partnership was formalised in 2006 by the establishment of CARTIS.  In addition to the focus on this recent case, the Surgical & Prosthetic Design team at PDR use advanced manufacturing technologies to produce hundreds of custom medical devices and models for use in surgery in UK hospitals each year - and continue to push the frontiers in this field to reduce costs and improve treatment outcomes.

L-R: Gavin Cawood (Director - PDR), Peter Evans (Maxillofacial Lab Manager - Morriston Hospital), Sean Peel (Design & Research Engineer - PDR), Professor Antony Chapman (Vice Chancellor - Cardiff Metropolitan University), Dr Dominic Eggbeer (Sugical & Prosthetic Design Unit Manager - PDR), Adrian Sugar (Consultant Maxillofacial Surgeon - Morriston Hospital / CARTIS Chair), Rt. Hon Carwyn Jones AM


Using Advanced Design to Rebuild a Face 


The CARTIS team L>R: Lawrence Dovgalski (Principal Maxfac. Prosthetist), Kelly Morris (Trainee Maxfac. Prosthetist), Peter Evans (Consultant Prosthetist & Lab Manager), Dr Dominic Eggbeer (PDR - Surgical + Prosthetic Design Unit Manager), Sean Peel (PDR - Design & Research Engineer), Mr Adrian Sugar (Consultant Maxfac. Surgeon), Ffion O'Malley (PDR - Research Student).


BBC article & video here:


A motorcyclist who was severely injured in an accident has undergone pioneering surgery using techniques developed by the Surgical & Prosthetic Design team at PDR, Cardiff Metropolitan University and the MaxilloFacial Unit at Morriston Hospital. 


The patient, Mr Stephen Power, was motorcycling with friends, when he was involved in an accident in Llantwit Major, near Cardiff.  He broke both arms and his right leg was so badly damaged it required a bone graft.  He also suffered major injuries to his head and face.  Stephen underwent emergency surgery at Morriston Hospital, Swansea. His limb injuries were very serious and were managed by the trauma and orthopaedic surgeons and the plastic surgeons.


Consultant maxillofacial surgeon Adrian Sugar said:


“We were able to do a pretty good job with all his facial injuries, with the exception of his left cheek and eye socket. We fixed his facial fractures pretty well but he had damaged his left eye and the ophthalmologists did not want us to do anything that might damage his sight further. That was a good move because his eyesight has mostly recovered. But as a result we did not get his left cheekbone in the right place and we did not even try to reconstruct the very thin bones around his eye socket. The result was that his cheekbone was too far out and his eye was sunk in and dropped.”

The goal of the most recent surgery was primarily to correct Stephen’s appearance by precisely cutting and moving facial bones.  This represented a significant challenge due to the complexity of the necessary movements and proximity of the operation to critical, sensitive anatomy.  In order to offer the optimum outcome, a multidisciplinary approach that utilised the latest surgical planning, computer aided design and 3D printing techniques was required.    


PDR’s Surgical & Prosthetic Design team are experts at working with hospitals across the UK to pioneer new ways of using advanced computer aided technologies to improve the predictability, efficiency and accuracy of surgical and prosthetic procedures (at lower overall treatment costs).  PDR has a formal collaboration with the Maxillofacial Unit at Morriston Hospital; the Centre for Applied Reconstructive Technologies in Surgery (, which also involves the collaborative expertise of other local, national and international units. 


Sean Peel, Design & Research Engineer from PDR, with Dr Dominic Eggbeer and Research Student Ffion O'Malley assisted the Morriston team transforming the medical scan data of the patient into a virtual, 3D surgical model.  Precise locations for cuts that would free up sections of facial bone for movement were then decided upon in close collaboration with the clinicians.  In order to translate these cuts into theatre, a custom fitting saw guide was designed to fit securely around the anatomy, with slots positioned to guide the surgeon’s movement.  Once the bone sections were freed in the virtual plan, they were carefully positioned to reconstruct the anatomy and provide the best possible symmetry.  Custom implants, and a repositioning guide to enable the bone sections to be held securely whilst the implants were placed, were then designed.


Sean Peel said: 


“3D Printing is often promoted in surgical use for its own sake – with an emphasis on the technological capabilities of the machines.  However, as this case amongst hundreds of others undertaken by PDR shows, developing and using a robust design process is just as important.

The interdisciplinary team works in two different technical languages using two contrasting skill sets from very divergent backgrounds.  Through the CARTIS collaboration, PDR’s design engineers are in a unique position to bridge this gap, translate, and find a balance between what is possible in the operating theatre and what is possible for design and fabrication.”

3D printing was the most logical choice for producing the complex guides and implant shapes.  PDR commissioned the manufacturing of cutting and positioning guides in bio-compatible cobalt chromium alloy to Renishaw, the only UK manufacturer of a metal 3D printing machine, which is increasingly applying its technology to medical applications.  The implants were 3D printed by another Belgium-based supplier (LayerWise) in medical grade titanium - supplied polished in the case of the orbital floor component. 


Mr Sugar led a multidisciplinary team that included ENT surgeon, Serryth Colbert, registrar, Ali Al-Rikabi, further theatre staff, and prosthetists Peter Evans and Lawrence Dovgalski.  The 8 hour operation went extremely smoothly, with the guides and implants fitting according to the plan.  Recovery has gone well since the operation and the swelling is gradually going down, revealing the final outcome. 

PDR SPD Unit Manager, Dr. Dominic Eggbeer said:

“The successful outcome is testament to the virtues of involving a multidisciplinary team that included University, NHS and industry partners.  PDR’s skilled team includes Design & Research Engineer, Sean Peel, Research Associate, Ffion O’Mailley and Technician, Emily Bilbie, who are routinely embedded in hospital departments to learn first-hand about the real-world requirements of clinicians.  We use design knowledge to provide the crucial link between surgical techniques and state of the art engineering technologies.”  


The next challenge is to refine the planning, design and manufacturing process to make these techniques as efficient as possible.  This is crucial to ensure much wider healthcare service benefits, which is the focus of on-going CARTIS research.