Transforming personalised medicine with medical 3D printing

The future of standardising medical 3D printing 
© iStock/simonkr

Korean researchers are paving the way for medical 3D printing and 3D scanning with new international standards that could transform personalised medicine. 

The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) announced three new international standard development tasks for “Medical Image Based Medical 3D Printing Modelling” were approved, and a working group for 3D scanning standard development was also established. Moreover, two related international standards, which began development in 2019, are about to be finalised. 

These new standards play an essential role in personalised medicine and are expected to revitalise the current medical equipment industry. Moreover, the standards will allow medical professionals to create bespoke equipment in minimal time to treat patients more efficiently and effectively. 

What is medical 3D printing?

Medical 3D printing is a technology that uses a patient’s medical image information to design a personalised surgical device, implantable medical devices, and pre-simulation tools. It is also used to make implants and prostheses that fit the patient’s facial skeleton. 

Up until now, customised medical devices were designed by hand. This is because it is difficult to distinguish the tissue parts in the image whilst also taking a long time to produce, meaning that medical 3D printing could not be used in urgent situations. This will transform personalised healthcare, allowing patients to be treated with unique medical equipment that is designed to their needs.

Once the new standards are complete, the research team expect to evaluate the precision/accuracy of their suggested procedures and methods for medical 3D printing modelling software, which will be useful in domestic and overseas software licensing. 

The benefit of 3D printing is that design time could be reduced from 24 hours to around three hours. Quality control will also be more straightforward. Furthermore, once commercialised, it is expected to help predict treatment side effects and prescribe optimal drugs through virtual simulation based on personal health data. Medical 3D printing is a gamechanging tool in developing personalised medicine and innovating the healthcare industry.

It is expected that professionals from the US FDA, RSNA, and DICOM will partake in the standardisation work, potentially changing the medical industry. 

 Developing standards since 2019

The researchers began the development of new standards for medical 3D printing modelling and artificial intelligence-based automation. They are expected to share two standards by the end of 2022. The three new proposals will contain an additional precision/accuracy core evaluation system and method. 

ETRI established a working group (AHG-3) for the development of 3D scanning standards and the first meeting was on June 16. The working group will source international standard issues linking 3D printing and scanning in the future, develop technical reports and establish a roadmap. 

Hyung-jun Kim, head of ETRI’s Intelligent Convergence Research Institute, said, “It is very meaningful to develop more than five medical 3D printings essential for patient-tailored medical care led by Korea, establish a 3D scanning group, and lead the core international standards that can lead to digital twins and metaverse”. 

This achievement has led ETRI to plan the expansion of international standards that cover various industries by collecting additional opinions from industry-academic institutions relating to medical 3D printing and 3D scanning. 


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