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Medical Modeling

August 31, 2008

Filed under: additive manufacturing,life — Terry Wohlers @ 12:42

Late last week I visited Medical Modeling Inc. of Golden, Colorado. I’ve been to the company a few times in the past, but this time was different. I’ve always been impressed by the company’s progressive thinking and dazzling projects. This time, however, I was taken to another level. There really is no other company like it. Not even close.

Andy Christensen has been the head of the company from the beginning. His youthful look makes you wonder how he could have started the company 12 years ago. Since then, he and his team have completed an estimated 13,000 individuals cases from around the world, many requiring multiple models. The breadth and complexity of the projects—all medical-related using CT or MRI scan data—is nothing short of extraordinary.

The core business has focused on the building of models that serve as a planning tool to teams of surgeons. Producing translucent models that reveal tumors, nerves, blood vessels, and other anatomy has been key. Most of these models have been produced using Huntsman’s Stereocol stereolithography resin. The company also runs several Spectrum Z510 multicolor 3D printers from Z Corp.  Very recently, the company installed a new Connex500 machine from Objet Geometries. Christensen said the company plans to introduce models in the future from this system using its unique multi-material characteristics.

Over the past year, the company has been producing metallic parts and implants on its two Electron Beam Melting (EBM) machines from Arcam. Most of the parts to date have been produced in Ti64 titanium alloy, although the company has also used cobalt chrome for wear resistant applications such as knee and hip joints. Already, the company has had components implanted into patients and expects this activity to rise significantly in the coming months with several innovative products in the works.

Accident victims, conjoined twins, cancer patients, brain tumors, severe scoliosis, dental problems, rare diseases and birth defects—Medical Modeling has seen and done it all. The display of parts and pictures of cases at the company is mind-boggling. Some are heart-wrenching. The next time you find yourself in the Denver/Golden area, consider a visit to this company. It will be like no other.