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3D-Printing with Confidence: Quality Assurance in 3D-Printed Anatomic Models

Updated: May 27

The field of Medical 3D printing is a promising technology that involves creating three dimensional anatomical structures using data obtained from medical images. These models can be used to create handheld representations of a patient´s unique anatomy and pathology.


With the help of 3D printing, it is now possible to quickly produce patient-specific anatomical models that benefits patient consultation and offer a more effective opportunity for surgical planning and training.

The input data file (DICOM imaging information from a medical scanner file) can be processed by commercial off-the-shelf software (Mimics Medical ®), and the result is an output data file that may then be provided as digital models or used as input to produce physical anatomic models using additive manufacturing. The physical replica can be used for diagnostic purposes in the field of maxillofacial applications in conjunction with other diagnostic tools and expert clinical judgment.

At TECHFIT we guarantee that TECHFIT Diagnostic models are an accurate representation of the patient’s anatomy, and are manufactured via 3D printing in clear resin

The dimensional accuracy of 3D printed anatomical models is critical for healthcare professionals to precisely identify complex anatomical structures and make informed decisions that prioritize patient safety and evidence driven care.

An incorrect representation of anatomical structures may lead to misinformation and negatively impact clinical decision making, ultimately harming patient outcomes


Internally, to validate our TECHFIT Diagnostic Models we carried out a study to validate the dimensional accuracy of our 3D printed models ensuring that 3D printed anatomical models are highly accurate is of utmost importance for physicians and patients alike. Properly designed and produced models can significantly improve patient outcomes and the quality of care in the healthcare industry.

Are you interested in how we ensure precision? Keep reading

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Different anatomic models were manufactured following our segmentation and manufacturing process. Then, the models were scanned and compared to their original designs to determine the dimensional error: the difference between the scanned model and the original design.



The dimensional error was calculated using the Analyze toolbox of the Mimics Innovation Suite. The original design and scanned images were digitally aligned and overlapped. Then, the dimensional error was estimated by comparing the difference between the overlapped images on a point-by-point basis.


The numerical data was exported and analyzed by an expert Statistical Epidemiologist. Each model was analyzed and graphed showing the histogram of the mean dimensional error in the alignment of STL files of the 3D-printed models and original design. Most histograms showed a narrow concentration of data without many extreme differences.



The mean dimensional errors (± SD) after manufacturing in all models were under ± 0.5 mm, which is within the limits of the critical value (± 0.5 mm) accepted according to the several peer reviewed studies such as Katheng et al. (2020) [1] and Chen et al. (2019) [2]. All the surfaces showed a mean deviation from the original file within ± 0.20 mm at most (without considering the SD).

The models displayed high consistency with a narrow 95% CI of their dimensional errors, demonstrating that the model's fidelity to the patient's anatomy is maintained even in complex anatomical structures like the maxilla.


These findings indicated that even though the 3D-printing process could introduce minimal dimensional errors to the models, the fidelity to the original design was maintained. The shape and dimensional accuracy remained high.

These results indicate that TECHFIT Diagnostic Models are manufactured with high accuracy, independently of the dimensions and anatomical structure they represent

In summary, ensuring that 3D printed anatomical models are highly accurate is of utmost importance for physicians and patients alike. Properly designed and produced models can significantly improve patient outcomes and the quality of care in the healthcare industry.


References

[1] Katheng A, Kanazawa M, Iwaki M, Minakuchi S. Evaluation of dimensional accuracy and degree of polymerization of stereolithography photopolymer resin under different postpolymerization conditions: An in vitro study. J Prosthet Dent 2021;125:695–702. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.prosdent.2020.02.023.

[2] Chen L, Lin W-S, Polido WD, Eckert GJ, Morton D. Accuracy, reproducibility, and dimensional stability of additively manufactured surgical templates. J Prosthet Dent 2019;122:309–14. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.prosdent.2019.02.007.


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