AMS 2022: 3D printing comes to the point of care for medical and dental applications –


Additive Manufacturing Strategies (AMS) have swept through New York, and March 2, 2022 was a day dedicated to health and bio-printing. The topic was close to the hearts of many attendees, literally and figuratively, given the direct benefits that 3D printing could bring to the sick and healthy.

Before the discussion on the topic began, Editor-in-Chief Joris Peels started with a thought experiment to help companies uncover the possible uses of 3D printing: Can you 3D print? a golf club? The smart and entertaining talk could apply to any vertical, meant to relax company team members before they actually think about how additive manufacturing (AM) can be used in their business. As a lateral thinking exercise, it also allowed participants to move on to the next panel.

Medical 3D printing

Oliver Smith, Founder and Principal Consultant for Rethink Additive, moderated a discussion on “3D Printing in Implants and Orthopedics” with Benjamin Johnson, Vice President of Portfolio and Regulatory at 3D Systems; Phil Reeves, managing director at Reeves Insight Ltd. ; and Jeff Herman, co-founder and CEO of Fabric8Labs. The most exciting aspect of this conversation had to be the new technologies emerging from these companies.

A preview of the production suite at AMS 2022, handled by an excellent stage crew.

In particular, Fabric8Labs has developed an electroplating type process to create small metal parts. As Smith pointed out, the potential of the technology in healthcare is immense as it may be possible to produce large quantities of catheters or laparoscopic tools simply by extending the X and Y axes of the vessel.

Image courtesy of Fabric8Labs.

This was followed by a panel on “3D Printing in Surgical Planning and Modeling” moderated by this author and featuring Robert Wesley, Director of Additive Manufacturing Biomedical Engineering at Ricoh USA, and Gaurav Manchanda , director of medical market development at Formlabs. Manchanda has had a crazy career ranging from advising Liberia’s Ministry of Health to working with the US government’s Powering Health initiative.

He shared an interesting insight that many of the clients he works with are actually surgeons using desktop machines to explore the possibilities of 3D printing anatomical models and surgical guides themselves. This then leads other people in a hospital to see the technology and adopt it, which ultimately leads management to consider investing in 3D printing on a larger scale.

In the case of Ricoh, the Japanese imaging and electronics company established a service desk. This allows surgeons and doctors to use 3D printing without investing directly in the technology. Using IBM software, CT scans can be easily converted into segments they can order from Ricoh, which then uses Stratasys PolyJet to 3D print multi-color, multi-material models. These can then be used for diagnosis, education or surgical planning.

Medical uses of 3D printed anatomical models.

Ricoh 3D for Healthcare partners with Stratasys to create anatomical models. Image courtesy of Ricoh.

During the morning healthcare segment, other topics included “End User Hospitals and Clinical Experiences” and “Medical Additive” regulation. Experts such as Shannon Walters, executive director of the 3DQ lab at Stanford University School of Medicine; Albert Woo, associate professor of surgery, pediatrics, and neurosurgery at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School; and Amy Alexander, Unit Head of Biomechanical Development and Applied Computational Engineering at Mayo Clinic; thought about what it’s like to actually use 3D printing in a hospital environment.

There, it’s hard to find space to justify setting up an AM lab, despite the immense benefits that 3D printing of anatomical models and surgical guides can bring, as Alexander explained. Even then, establishing a rapport between the lab and the surgeons can be difficult, as physicians are already extremely busy. Getting them to sit down and plan a surgical model or guide in three weeks can be difficult, and if the 3D-printed object doesn’t turn out correctly, the lab could be to blame, according to Woo.

Dental 3D printing

Dental practitioners can face some of the same challenges as those in the medical field, especially when it comes to how dentists and orthodontists learn to use technology. As I learned on another panel I moderated, “Improving the Patient Experience with 3D Printing,” Kunal Lal, Partner at Elk Dental Associates, first turned to printing 3D in 1999 to produce a surgical guide. To do this, he relied on the services of Materialize AM. Now, however, he uses a 3D Systems NexDent system in his office to 3D print parts. Amazingly, Lal is actually following the same patient he treated over two decades ago.

In fact, chairside 3D printing is becoming increasingly common, so common that DWS, the Italian company that launched the first commercial desktop stereolithography 3D printer in 1991, has developed a suite of 3D printers specifically for this application. Maurizio Costabeber, CTO of DWS, talked about the product line in his keynote. The DFAB series, which was on display in the exhibit hall, is the closest thing to an espresso machine that a 3D printer could be. With various materials available, a dentist or orthodontist can simply insert a cartridge, convert an intraoral scan to a model, and click print. The machine is designed to handle the viscous materials needed for increasingly permanent restorations and other products, and it can print them in just 10 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, as practitioners begin to use more chairside solutions, dental labs are also adopting the technology at higher rates. A leader in this segment is Glidewell, which has some 400 3D printers in its facilities, according to Ankush Venkatesh, additive manufacturing intrapreneur at Glidewell. When a dentist cannot or prefers not to produce their own items, Glidewell has perfected their own workflow to mass produce custom items that can be quickly returned to their dental customers. Daniel Alter, Director of Dental Technology Consulting, explained that whether done in the lab or chairside, the benefits apply to both the patient and the practitioner. A patient can sometimes have their treatment at the end of a visit, reducing the number of visits for surgery. In turn, the dental surgeon then has more time to see other patients.


For anyone dreaming of the future, the bio-printing part of the day was irresistible. It began with a keynote from Itedale Namro Redwan, Chief Scientific Officer of CELLINK, who essentially broke down the company’s various bioprinting efforts. The company had a booth in the exhibition hall where its lab-oriented BIO X 3D printer was on display alongside BIO CELLX, a new platform for high-throughput hydrogel extrusion. It is basically a mass production mini machine.

This was followed by a panel led by our very own Vanesa Listek on “Current Uses of Bioprinting,” in which Taci Pereira, Vice President and General Manager of Bioprinting for 3D Systems; Andrew Lee, Head of Bioprinting and Co-Founder of FluidForm; and Yu Shrike Zhang, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. It’s honestly mind blowing what 3D Systems is doing in the bioprinting space, with their work with United Therapeutics being about as close to a full 3D printed organ as it gets. However, Pereira’s work with Allevi sees researchers using the technology now to create labs on chips.

In a panel led by Joris on “Bioprinter Market Trends,” we heard from Kenneth Church, Founder of Sciperio Inc.; Stephen G. Gray, founder of 4D Bioprinting; and Martin Hermatschweiler, co-founder and CEO of Nanoscribe. Nanoscribe, now a subsidiary of BICO/CELLINK, offers 3D printing materials at the nanometer level, while Sciperio’s nScrypt has created a factory within a tool, which not only means bio-printing on the International Space Station, but also the production of electronics and other functional components.

In addition to a panel on “Printable Biomaterials Markets” and a conference on “Future Applications of Bioprinting”, the day ended with a panel moderated by Women in 3D Printing (Wi3DP). Wi3DP President, Kristin Mulherin, who is also the General Manager of Powder Bed Solutions at Nexa3D, moderated a discussion on “Point-of-Care 3D Printing”. Here, we learned about the realities of technology, including the role of regulation in technology adoption. For example, Magdalene Fogarasi, an AM engineer at the FDA, explained how the pandemic has led to the faster deployment of many 3D printed medical products, which has since slowed down a bit now that there is less need for immediate products like face masks and respirators.

It was all topped off with a happy hour hosted by Wi3DP at The Brazen Tavern. While AMS held a happy hour at the event site the night before, it felt like a much more laid-back venue to cultivate a greater sense of camaraderie. In addition, people who had not participated in the AMS were present, adding much-needed professional diversity. The night’s success could be measured in decibels and venue capacity, with revelers packed neck and neck and discussing topics that went far beyond AM’s boundaries.

While we may have started the day with the serious subject of healthcare, we ended things with a jovial atmosphere of lagers, wines and cocktails. I urge event planners to add more of this, possibly with a greater presence of groups like Wi3DP.


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