Printing the human body

ARI kicks off MAM collaboration with Universitätsspital Basel and University of Basel

15 May 2018

Medical additive manufacturing (MAM) technology is poised to revolutionize patient care, from improved medical education by using 3-D printed models for teaching to additively manufactured, patient-specific implants. As part of AO CMF’s project, AO Research Institute Davos (ARI) is collaborating with the two leading institutions to more effectively bring patient needs into its MAM research and development: the 3D Print Lab at the Universitätspital Basel (USB) and the University of Basel Department of Biomedical Engineering Medical Additive Manufacturing Group. 

 3-D Discovery Printer in a biosafety cabinet from regenHU Ltd. in the AO Research Institute Davos (ARI)

That collaboration was formally initiated on March 29, 2018 with a joint scientific workshop at AO Center in Davos. Bringing invaluable expertise to the meeting were experts from both sides of the joint effort, including Dr Florian Thieringer, USB Assistant Medical Director and Lecturer for Cranio- and Maxillofacial Surgery, Head of the MAM research group at the University of Basel’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, and co-founder and co-director of the USB 3D Print Lab; Thieringer’s team; AO Research Institute Davos scientists; and representatives of AO CMF and the AO Technical Commission. 

“The idea behind this collaboration came when I met Dr Thieringer through his AO CMF courses on 3-D printing. He and his team are embedded in a clinic and are strongly pushing to apply 3-D printing technology in clinics,” said David Eglin, AO Research Institute Davos Principal Scientist, Musculoskeletal Regeneration, and organizer of the workshop. “In the next five to 20 years, MAM will revolutionize medical care. It is very important for AO Research Institute Davos to target the right technology to drive advances in patient care.” 

Dr David Eglin uses the 3-D Discovery Printer in the
AO Research Institute Davos (ARI)
3-D Discovery Printer in the AO Research Institute
Davos (ARI) produces personalized implants

​​Closer link to patients 

The closeness of Thieringer and his team to patients can inform AO Research Institute Davos’s understanding of patient needs, Eglin explained. 

“We are truly a research institute and we do interact with surgeons, but we do not see patients daily as Dr Thieringer does. Now, we really want to have a closer link to patients,” he said. “Then, for example, I can go back to my research lab and design the products that will be most useful to patients.”

The March 29 meeting explored a wide variety of MAM-related topics, beginning with an introduction of the event, topics and goals by Thieringer, Eglin, and AO Research Institute Davos Director Prof R Geoff Richards. Twenty-five participants heard presentations on: 

  • Biofabrication and Additive Manufacturing at AO Research Institute Davos (Dr David Eglin) 

  • Medical 3-D Printing at Universitätsspital Basel (Dr Florian Thieringer) 

  • Personalized Ceramic Printable Ink for Patient-Specific Implant Fabrication CTI/KTI project (Dr Christoph Sprecher, project leader, Musculoskeletal Regeneration, AO Research Institute Davos) 

  • Reconstruction of a Large Maxillary Defect by an Engineered Vascular Bone Graft (Dr Alexander Haumer, Universitätsspital Basel) 

  • A Tissue-Adhesive Hyaluronan Bioink That Can Be Cross-Linked Enzymatically and by Visible Light (Dr Matteo D’Este, Research Scientist, Musculoskeletal Regeneration, AO Research Institute Davos) 

  • Patient-Specific Surgical Implants Made of 3-D-Printed PEEK (Dr Neha Sharma, Universitätsspital Basel) 

  • Experimental Study on Prefabrication Customized, Vascularized Tissue-Engineered Bone Based on 3D-Printing for Mandibular Reconstruction in Rhesus Monkey (Mr Shuaishuai Cao, Universitätsspital Basel) 

  • ​3-D Sound Induced Morphogenesis: a BRIDGE Project (Dr Tiziano Serra, Research Scientist, Musculoskeletal Regeneration, AO Research Institute Davos)  

Unique synergies 

“3-D printing will be a big part of medicine in the future, as there are so many aspects where it can improve patient care: from the training of surgeons to improve technical skills by using 3-D-printed anatomical models to explain complex geometries, to the planning process for surgical procedures, and the printing of patient-specific implants,” Thieringer explained.

“There are unique synergies between the work we are doing at Universitätsspital Basel and the work AO Research Institute Davos is doing,” he added. “ARI has a huge amount of experience and expertise in biomaterials and biomechanical engineering, and we are very well integrated into our hospital’s daily clinical routine. Our collaboration can bring together these strengths to ultimately advance patient care.

To learn more about how AO CMF and AO Research Institute Davos are collaborating to improve patient care and explore what MAM could mean for patients in the future, visit:​3-D PrintingA Revolution in Medicine 

A joint scientific workshop held at the AO Center in Davos to initiate collaboration between the AO Research Institute Davos (ARI), the 3D Print Lab at the Universitätspital Basel (USB), and the University of Basel Department of Biomedical Engineering Medical Additive Manufacturing Group​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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