3D Printed Surgical Instruments: The Design and Fabrication Process
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3D printing is an additive manufacturing process allowing the creation of solid objects directly from a digital file. We believe recent advances in additive manufacturing may be applicable to surgical instrument design. This study investigates the feasibility, design and fabrication process of usable 3D printed surgical instruments.
The computer-aided design package SolidWorks (Dassault Systemes SolidWorks Corp., Waltham MA) was used to design a surgical set including hemostats, needle driver, scalpel handle, retractors and forceps. These designs were then printed on a selective laser sintering (SLS) Sinterstation HiQ (3D Systems, Rock Hill SC) using DuraForm EX plastic. The final printed products were evaluated by practicing general surgeons for ergonomic functionality and performance, this included simulated surgery and inguinal hernia repairs on human cadavers. Improvements were identified and addressed by adjusting design and build metrics.
Repeated manufacturing processes and redesigns led to the creation of multiple functional and fully reproducible surgical sets utilizing the user feedback of surgeons. Iterative cycles including design, production and testing took an average of 3 days. Each surgical set was built using the SLS Sinterstation HiQ with an average build time of 6 h per set.
Functional 3D printed surgical instruments are feasible. Advantages compared to traditional manufacturing methods include no increase in cost for increased complexity, accelerated design to production times and surgeon specific modifications.
KeywordsInguinal Hernia Repair Additive Manufacturing Surgical Instrument Selective Laser Sinter Fuse Deposition Modeling
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