Regenerative Medicine Utrecht

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Opening 3DMedical Field Lab – Personalised patient care with 3D printing and 3D imaging technology at your fingertips

The 3DMedical Field Lab was officially launched on Thursday 30 November 2017. 3DMedical is the first 3D printing Field Lab for the medical sector in the Netherlands and the first Field Lab in the Utrecht region. This practical environment dedicated to 3D printing for the medical sector constitutes a partnership between HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, the ProtoSpace Foundation, UMC Utrecht’s 3D Facelab and Biofabrication Facility, Utrecht Life Sciences, the Utrecht Science Park Foundation and private companies and institutions. The public-private partnership is to effect a radical improvement in patient care based on 3D technology. The partnership has been given the status of Field Lab in the Smart Industry agenda drawn up at the request of the Minister for Economic Affairs.

The 3DMedical Field Lab will combine facilities, knowledge and expertise on 3D printing and medical imaging at the Utrecht Science Park. Its objective is to facilitate personalised healthcare using 3D technology, by creating anything from from surgical models to bioprinted implants. The field of 3D medical printing is developing at a rapid pace, and it has the capacity to fundamentally change healthcare. Within a few years, the initiators expect significant progress with regards to the conversion of scans to print files for patient-specific models, resources and implants. Moreover, the impact of operations on patients will be drastically reduced due to surgeons being able to prepare themselves for the operation realistically. In addition to this, work is being done throughout the world on 3D bioprinted blood vessels, bones, organs and skin, as well as the possibility of printing 3D medicines at home. The launch of 3DMedical will enable the Netherlands to take part in giving substance and shape to these kinds of developments as well. UMC Utrecht is in the international vanguard, for instance, and has earned itself a worldwide reputation when it comes to customised skull and jaw implants, and personalised implants for complex hip revision surgery.

Do Blankestijn, Director of the Institute of Engineering and Design at HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, is proud of the Field Lab’s opening: ‘What we’re doing here is amassing state-of-the-art knowledge about 3D printing in healthcare. This will enable our students to be the first young professionals working with the latest technologies in conjunction with public and private clients. That should be a huge benefit to them further down the line when they enter the job market.’

Jos Malda, Professor of Biofabrication in Translational Regenerative Medicine at UMC Utrecht, shares this enthusiasm: ‘This will give us the opportunity to jointly carry out multidisciplinary research projects geared towards developing new products and services. It will bring the supply of personalised healthcare yet another step closer.’

Jan Henk van der Velden, Director of the Utrecht Science Park, is very pleased with the opening of this Field Lab: ‘The benefit of cooperation between research institutes and private enterprises is precisely what Utrecht Science Park is all about. It’s an amalgamation of knowledge and expertise from the education, research and business communities, which will foster innovation and economic growth. These kinds of innovations will enable patients to get better help more swiftly.’

3DMedical will give start-ups and established companies access to research facilities, students and scientists in a co-creation setting. These include UMC Utrecht’s 3D Facelab and Biofabrication Facility as well as the workshops of the ProtoSpace Foundation and HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht. Research, both contract-based and otherwise, will also be possible. Furthermore, the Field Lab will be able to play a role in the clinical validation and commercialisation of the research.