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3D printing technology symposium draws record attendance

August 12, 2019

Increasingly, 3D-printed models are helping providers plan complex surgeries and assist residents in learning complicated anatomy.

The power and potential of 3D printing technology was on full display June 7 at the third annual Midwest Regional 3D Symposium at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City.

Featuring presenters from 12 universities, three academic medical centers and seven technology companies from nine states, the day-long symposium was sponsored in part by the departments of Neurosurgery and Plastic Surgery at the University of Kansas Medical Center and hosted by the Midwest Regional 3D Technology Society.

The symposium attracted its largest number of participants yet with more than 160 attendees. During concurrent breakout sessions in three different educational tracks, participants learned about the impact of, and ongoing research related to, 3D printing technology in industry, research and education, and healthcare.

"This symposium represents the only one of its kind in this region," said Jason Gorup, administrator for clinical research, University of Kansas Medical Center Department of Neurosurgery. "This year we encompassed more 3D technologies including additive manufacturing, bioprinting and digital imaging. We also broke the symposium into three separate tracts - medical/clinical, industry, and education and research - because we felt these categories better represented the attendees' respective fields of work and study."

Three-dimensional printing is the science - and art - of converting digital images of various objects into life-sized 3D models produced using a raw material such as plastic. A related technology, 3D bioprinting, works in the same way but uses living cells in a raw material called bioink.

Both boundary-stretching processes are being applied in a growing number of ways. For instance, 3D printers can produce items such as cell phone cases, toys, tools and even small houses. Though the ability to bioprint human organs is still in the distant future, producing cellular material such as blood vessels and nerve grafts is possible now. Increasingly, providers are turning to 3D-printed models to help plan complicated surgeries and to measure for and make adjustments to medical devices before procedures. In dentistry, these models allow practitioners to create oral implants and appliances in shorter timeframes.

As part of the symposium's healthcare track, presenters demonstrated 3D printing's wide-ranging applications by presenting research on a variety of topics such as bioprinting craniofacial bone, 3D printed prostheses and engineering bone tissue.

Keynote speakers for the event included Gabor Forgacs, Ph.D., professor, biological physics, University of Missouri; Mark Abshire, senior application engineer, Additive Manufacturing; and Sharukh S. Khajotia, B.D.S., M.S., Ph.D., professor and head, Division of Dental Biomaterials, College of Dentistry, University of Oklahoma.

Children's Mercy Park is the home of Major League Soccer's Sporting Kansas City.

Last modified: Aug 12, 2019
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