A UK first: CPI installs Digital Anatomy 3D Printer into its National Healthcare Photonics Centre

05 May 2021

CPI today announces it has installed the Stratasys J750 Digital Anatomy 3D Printer in its National Healthcare Photonics Centre. 

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The Centre is a unique combination of bio-labs and instrument development facilities where companies can work alongside CPI staff in state-of-the-art facilities for the development of medical technology using photonics. The Centre, which was supported with a £7.9m grant from the Government’s Local Growth Deal through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, includes capabilities in optical system design and test (including testing with ionising radiation or x‑rays), imaging, printing and manufacture. The innovative 3D Printer was installed by Laser Lines, the UK’s most established reseller of 3D printers and materials and is the first unit to be located in the UK.

Trends in the MedTech market are changing to meet the requirement for more personalised and less invasive care, moving away from hospital-based services. New approaches in imaging and diagnostics therapies are helping to meet these challenges. The Stratasys J750 Digital Anatomy 3D Printer enables the production of realistic body parts based on actual patient-specific scan data and is part of this trend. Multi-material anatomical models constructed using the data captured by hospital imaging systems lets surgical teams, consultants and their patients make better-informed decisions before embarking on surgery or a treatment régime.

Wayne Morton, senior mechanical design engineer at CPI, says: Anatomy is incredibly difficult to design and replicate. Trying to model a human with a particular injury or syndrome using traditional techniques is virtually impossible until now. The new Digital Anatomy 3D Printer gives us precise control over what we are designing and developing as we can now manufacture model parts directly from data obtained by medical imaging methods such as CT scanning or MRI. It is a very valuable tool for our partners to benefit from as part of the design and prototyping phase of medical device development.”

CPI’s investment means that it can now use actual patient data to print several identical copies of that patient’s body part. For example, surgeons who want to be able to practise before an operation takes place, can print a replica of that actual patient’s organ with all of its anomalies. The surgeon can print the part as many times as needed before the procedure. Previously, animal, cadaver, and synthetic models would have been used to practise with, which can be costly and difficult to manage.

Wayne adds: We can convert data from medical scan data, such as MRI, into a solid design file and then be able to print someone’s actual skull, not just something that is an approximation. This is an incredible advance for a surgeon because several copies of that anatomical part can be manufactured enabling the surgeon to plan the procedure and optimise patient care.”

Digital anatomy Polyjet printing (left) which simulates the biomechanical structure of the anatomy; and, full colour Polyjet printing (right) which is used for visual representation of anatomical models
Digital anatomy Polyjet printing (left) which simulates the biomechanical structure of the anatomy, and full colour Polyjet printing (right) which is used for visual representation of anatomical models

The Stratasys J750 Digital Anatomy 3D Printer produces incredibly realistic representations that can be used as both visual and functional models. Using base materials that have been exclusively produced for this printer, users can create models that look and feel like human tissue. The Stratasys J750 Digital Anatomy 3D Printer can also help to verify medical devices faster, enabling companies to get their products to market quicker and for patients to benefit from new technologies earlier. The machine can reduce overall cost by up to 70% compared to conventional models. The materials can all be printed to different sizes, strengths and resistances to create unparalleled accuracy down to a thickness of 1mm for vascular system walls. For rigid geometry, the system can print even finer layers to a thickness of 14micron.

Wayne says: There are a lot of benefits we will see from the 3D printer, so we are extremely excited to have the first unit in the UK and to be able to share this capability with our partners. Now, we can print with certified biocompatible materials when we are making a wearable device enclosure. This means we can be confident that the patient will be able to use it for up to 30 days without getting rashes or irritation.

About Laser Lines 

Founded in 1975, Laser Lines is a leading supplier of industrial lasers and accessories, 3D printers and additive layer manufacturing systems. With over 40 years’ experience of using laser technology to achieve the goals of business and industry, Laser Lines was one of the first to recognise the potential of 3D printing over 25 years ago. Today, it leads the field in UK 3D printing and additive manufacturing. In recognition of the size of the organisation, the number of systems it carries for demonstration purposes and the level of experience and expertise within its sales and technical support team, Laser Lines is a Stratasys-appointed Platinum Partner.

About CPI

CPI works with partners to translate inventions into products and processes that enhance health and wellbeing, protect and improve our environment and increase productivity across industries.

With a deep understanding of technology fore-sighting, innovation processes and funding, outstanding technical expertise and industry-relevant assets, we enable the accelerated development of transformational products and processes that have the potential to disrupt and revolutionise markets. We also engage in incremental technological innovation that allows established products and processes to be optimised for better performance and efficient manufacture.

Through the breadth of our technology platforms, we support our partners across many diverse markets, including pharmaceuticals, speciality chemicals, food and drink, electronics and transportation.


About the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is a public, private, and education sector partnership that covers Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland local authority areas.

The £270.4m Local Growth Fund, secured as part of the North East Growth Deal, supports the North East LEP’s delivery of the Strategic Economic Plan, which aims to create 100,000 more and better jobs by 2024.

About the Local Growth Fund

Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country, helping to build a country that works for everyone. That’s why by 2021 Government will have invested over £12bn through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders. Analysis has shown that every £1 of Local Growth Fund invested could generate £4.81 in benefits.

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