The Maxillofacial Laboratory provides services to St George’s University Hospitals Foundation Trust (St Georges) and is made up of Orthodontic and Prosthodontic Dental Technicians as well as Maxillofacial Prosthetists.
The majority of the work undertaken by the laboratory is to service the NHS, although there are the occasional private cases that are requested.
The work undertaken includes orthodontic and dental appliances, facial and body prostheses, titanium cranioplasties for neurosciences, pressure splints for burns & plastics, oncology splints and devices.
Why look at 3D printing?
Over the years the maxillofacial profession has used this technology to supply their referring clinical teams with 3D models of bony anatomy to give the clinician a more accurate representation of their patients abnormalities.
Time has seen a marked increase in what 3D printing can offer the profession and it is now used to print cranial defects for more accurate titanium skull plates, facial bone anatomy which provides clinicians with a greater ability to plan osteotomies, implant placements, bone augmentation plannings, etc.
Skull sections printed on the EnvisionTEC Vector 3SP.
The team at St Georges were seeking a range of machines that provided the accuracy to reproduce bone structures and dental models combined with a range of complimentary materials. The guiding principle was choosing a machine that ensured the most accurate results for the patients across the different applications.
Additionally they were looking for 3D printers that would accept files from multiple CAD sources. Initially the printers would be fed using freeware, Invisalius, Meshmixer, Osirix (for Apple OS), but later from the Materialise suite of software that was being phased in to cover future craniofacial work.
After speaking to reseller partner Blueprint Dental, the team from St Georges were invited to visit EnvisionTEC’s facilities to view the range of machines and materials. After reviewing their options, and seeing a number of different rival systems they settled on an EnvisionTEC Perfactory Vida 3D printer together with a Vector 3SP Ortho 3D printer.
The flexibility of the two machines allows them to cover any requests from the differing departments.
“There are many 3D printer companies but EnvisionTEC is one that caters to the medical profession and provide a variety of budget conscious 3D printers.” - Iain Muir-Nelson - MIMPT, Maxillofacial
The restorative dental team at St Georges is now using EnvisionTEC’s 3D printing technology to produce implant guides for more accurate placement of dental implants, and printed denture bases to improve turnaround times.
The Maxillofacial clinicians at St Georges are now requesting 3D models to allow them to pre-bend bone plates prior to theatre sessions, which is reducing the time the operation takes as well as the length of anaesthesia needed.
The use of EnvisionTEC 3D printing technology is improving the results, reducing discomfort and decreasing recovery times for patients. The team at the hospital see the use of 3D printing technology expanding into many more areas of the hospital as time goes on, so watch this space.