3D Print Bureau of Texas, a service bureau in Houston, partners with several area hospitals to create patient-specific medical models for pre-operative planning and testing. The service bureau previously produced the anatomical medical models using stereolithography, but the models were limited to a single hardness and color. By moving to PolyJet technology, 3D Print Bureau of Texas can 3D print outer layers of heart models in a clear material and arteries in color for much greater clarity. The service bureau also prints materials of different hardnesses for a realistic feel that is suitable for physical testing.
“We realized the potential benefits of the Connex3 [3D printer] right away and medical customers love the results,” said Chad Devine, operations for 3D Print Bureau of Texas. The only limiting factor was the time needed — around eight hours for complex anatomical models — to manually remove support material from internal cavities. But that number has been greatly reduced after 3D Print Bureau of Texas adopted SUP706 soluble support material. Now technicians use a pressure washer to remove the bulk of the support material, then submerge the part in an alkaline solution to dissolve the rest away. Technicians’ hands-on time is now just two hours.
“The new SUP706 support material is a game-changer for making medical models,” said Devine. “It drastically reduces the time required to remove support from complex geometries and internal passageways.”