UCLH benefits from 3D printing

The Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at UCLH is using 3D printing – when a computer prints out a solid object – in a number of ways to improve the care we offer our patients and to support staff in their clinical work.

The team regularly prints out 3D anatomical models of facial and head defects, including broken jaw bones and skulls, where a titanium plate will be needed for reconstruction, from CT scans.

This allows surgeons to study the model in detail and plan the operation accurately. It saves them time when planning the surgery and shortens the length of the operation.

Mingjun Liu, clinical scientist in Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, said: “These models help the surgeons to carry out extensive planning prior to the operation. This can significantly shorten operation times, which benefits the patient and frees up theatre time.”

Engineers in the Mechanical Workshop are also putting the 3D printers to good use for practical purposes, including designing and printing parts for patient monitors which are often lost. By printing lost or damaged parts in-house, the trust estimates they are saving £5,000 each year.

The team has also started to design and print more objects, such as bespoke specialised carriages for network ports and cable tidies designed to improve the layout and safety of cables, and a protective funnel for fibre optic and laser cabling which was then mounted to the trolley which transports laser equipment.