PDR welcomes a new academic associate 


Ffion O’Malley joined PDR in early Dec. and has begun a 3 year full time Ph.D. in the area of custom surgical guide design.  Cutting and drilling guides are used to translate a computer-aided plan of a precise surgical operation into the operating theatre.  They are typically used in head and neck, orthopaedic, spinal and neurological surgery.  Each guide is unique to each procedure and must fit a precise area of anatomy on an individual patient. 

Despite huge advances in the field of product development technologies, there is significant scope to improve surgical outcomes and create a more efficient service based on optimising the entire supply chain involved with data capture, guide design, guide fabrication and delivery.  PDR has previously worked closely with surgical and technical maxillofacial specialists at Morriston Hospital in Swansea to pioneer new guide design and production methods.  Ffion’s research will bring together the surgical expertise of CARTIS and those of a global company to optimise appropriate production methods prior to clinical and commercial application.

Ffion attained a Master of Science in Advanced Product Design in 2011 and a 1st class BA (Hons) in Product Design  in 2010 from University of Wales Institute Cardiff.  She has worked with two medical companies based in the Institute of Life Science at Swansea University: Seren Technology Ltd. (developers of ideas into pioneering solutions for the healthcare and beauty industries) and Haemair Ltd. (developers of a patented prosthetic lung and respiratory aid) as a Design, Test and Research Engineer.


CARTIS Members’ Fixation with Heidelberg 

CARTIS members Peter Evans and Lawrence Dovgalski (Morriston Hospital), and Steffan Daniel (Cardiff Metropolitan University) recently attended the 21st Symposium of the International Association for Surgical Prosthetics & Epithetics (IASPE) in the romantic city of Heidelberg, Germany.

Heidelberg is surrounded by steep, forested slopes and boasts a wonderfully gothic castle located on the edge of the old part of the city. The River Neckar cuts through the city and leads many a tourist to take a boat to see the baroque-style architecture. The city has a large student community with an impressively modern University. The conference hall was situated in the Medical Clinic within the University Hospital.   

The Symposium focused on methods of retention in facial prosthetics. Methods of retention for Maxillofacial Prostheses can include the use of anatomical undercuts, adhesives, mechanical devices such as eye- glasses, and bone-anchored retention by the fixation of magnets, bar structures and clips on implants that protrude through the skin.

Choosing the appropriate method of retention can determine the success or failure of a prosthesis, and the design of its retention system contributes toward its stability, comfort and camouflage. There are many challenges associated with the integration of retention mechanisms in facial prosthetics, and many complex cases were presented by an array of international experts within the field. Lectures covered the latest developments in implant systems, prosthetic processes and approaches to prosthetic rehabilitation with the aid of digital technologies.

The CARTIS members contributed oral and poster presentations, focusing on new developments in magnetic retention and the use of digital technologies for the fabrication of retention bar structures. CARTIS members also lead a workshop with companies Cosmesil and Technovent, focusing on using silicone materials and innovative magnets. 


CARTIS Visits Medical Technology Exhibitions in Switzerland

CARTIS member Steffan Daniel recently flew to the centre of Europe to gain insight into the Swiss Medical Technology Industry.

Switzerland is a global ‘hotspot’ for medical technology. Approximately 1,600 companies exist in this sector and the Swiss invest around 1.4 billion Swiss Francs (about £950 million) a year into research and development in this industry. The Swiss Medical Technology Industry represents 2.0% of the Swiss GDP, which equates to highest worldwide medical technology GDP share.

Two medical technology exhibitions were visited during the trip, Orthotec Europe in Zurich, and the World Medtech Forum in Lucern. Both events featured industrial exhibitors from a multitude of countries, including Switzerland, Germany, USA, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Italy and France, to name a few.

The exhibitors at Orthotec Europe displayed a smorgasbord of orthopaedic technologies and products.  Exhibitor themes included:

 - Coating applications and surface modification

 - Materials: High value metals, ceramics,  medical grade plastics, implantable resorbable & non-resorbable textiles

 - Surface inspection and flaw detection systems

 - Additive manufacturing processes

 - Material selection systems

 - A range of implantable orthopaedic products, such as hip implants, trabecular cups, knee prostheses and ball joints

Research and Development is of significant importance in the Swiss Medical Technology Industry, and research institutes are highly connected with industry. Network organisations such as Medical Cluster and MedTec provide industrial support and act as a medium for connecting organisations and companies.

The World Medtech Forum provided a unique international meeting point for research institutes, organisations and industrial companies. The exhibition offered different networking zones, where One-to-One meetings could be arranged, presentations were attended and networking was encouraged. A particular highlight was a special networking zone called ‘The Centre of Attention’, in which a speaker’s stage was enclosed by a ring of exhibition stands, formed by Switzerland’s leading academic research institutes.

During this event, it became clear that the Swiss Medical Technology Industry successfully engages with academia to capitalise on their research. The commercialisation of applied research relies on the cooperation of the industrial network with the academic institutes, and this event provided an impressive platform for this engagement.

Traditionally world-renowned for watch-making, Switzerland exhibited an armamentarium of medical technologies, adding to its reputable portfolio of design and precision manufacturing. The efficient connection of industry and academia was to be applauded, and the events provided a great insight into this healthy industry in the heart of Europe.


TCT Live 2012

CARTIS members, Dominic Eggbeer, Sean Peel and Ariana Mihoc recently attended TCT Live at the NEC in Birmingham.  The event showcased the latest technology, materials and software employed within the fast moving Additive Manufacturing (AM) and Rapid Prototyping (RP) sectors.  It also hosted the AM and 3D Printing conference at which Dominic Eggbeer gave a presentation discussing the appropriateness of biological testing procedures for AM/RP materials. 

The application of Additive Manufacturing / Rapid Prototyping (AM/RP) technologies in the medical sector has become highly prevalent.  This has led technology and material vendors to develop processes and materials that meet medical requirements in a bid to enable products to be used in direct contact with skin and as temporary or permanent implants.  Common standards that developers cite are USP 23 Class VI and / or specific parts of ISO 10993.  However, whilst materials have undergone testing to demonstrate low toxicity, it is the responsibility of the device manufacturer to ensure that it is fit for purpose and complies with the Medical Device Directive. Whilst appropriate biological testing has been undertaken on many AM/RP materials, these tests do not necessarily represent an accurate reflection of how the end-use product will be applied.  This means there is a lack of clear information on how compliance can be ensured, especially when dealing with patient specific devices and very low volume production.

Dominic’s presentation aimed to clarify which AM/RP processes and materials meet which medical-related standards and how this translates to their suitability for different applications.  The objective was to address the shortfall of information that could help the product development supply chain understand the implication of adopting RP/AM in low volume or one-off production.  Particular focus was given to the appropriateness of various testing procedures for specific biomedical applications for a discrete range of AM/RP technologies. 

The Medical Applications Group has a central mission to use research knowledge to inform what technology should do by understanding, applying and developing what it can do.  Attending and participating at the event provided the ideal opportunity to understand the latest developments and put them in context of future research challenges. 

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CARTIS Partner Improves 3D Printing Research Capability

PDR have recently installed a Z-Corp, colour 3D printer to help to support multiple research projects of two groups: the Medical Applications Group (MAG) in PDR and The Wales Centre for Podiatric Studies.  Research undertaken by the MAG is driven the demand for bespoke medical products, that: perform better that off the shelf solutions, reduce risk and improve service efficiency.  The Wales Centre for Podiatric Studies combines an active research programme with clinical services and industrial collaboration that is helping to inform new learning and teaching techniques.

Research undertaken by the two groups has identified the suitability of incorporating the chosen 3D printing technology into a digital supply of bespoke breast prostheses, facial prostheses and anatomical teaching models.  CARTIS research has pioneered the ability to produce improved breast and facial prostheses through identifying user and clinical requirements and employing state of the art computer-aided technologies to streamline production.  The same computer-aided approach can also be used to produce high fidelity teaching models, which overcome the traditional limitations of using non-tactile two-dimensional diagrams or expensive cadaver models.  The two research groups have identified common major hurdles including cost, speed of production and lack of colour.  The Z-Corp 3D printer is highly suited to address these limitations due to its low material cost (around a quarter – a third the price of current PDR technologies), higher speed and ability to print colour and other lifelike features in 3D.

The new equipment fulfils a crucial role in the delivery of improved services and supports wider on-going research programmes by enabling the production of bespoke models in full colour, at an affordable cost to the NHS and in a much faster timescale.