AGH UST students, assisted by a team of experts from the University Children’s Hospital (Kraków) and students of Jagiellonian University’s Collegium Medicum have started work aiming to improve models of impression trays and nasal stents used in perioperative care provided for children with cleft palate and lip. The project is expected to deliver models of medical products suited to the needs of little patients.
Lip repair surgery in children can be conducted already at 12 weeks of age. In some cases the surgical procedure is followed by placing a stent which promotes proper formation of the child’s nose. Before the cleft palate surgery, an impression of the patient’s palate is taken by means of an impression tray. However, on the market there are currently no products that would be perfectly adapted to the anatomy of children at such young age.
Jakub Bryła, Marcin Chruściński and Michał Kryska, students of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Robotics at AGH UST and members of AGH UST research groups: AGH Rapid Prototyping and AGH Medical Technology, assisted by experts from the University Children’s Hospital in Kraków and students of Jagiellonian University’s Collegium Medicum have taken up the challenge of designing and producing prototypes of elements that would meet the requirements of this specific target group. The main problems to be tackled by the team include producing components that would meet the highest standards of precision required by their small dimensions as well as the choice of production technology and material certified for medical applications.
The students have already accomplished first results. In mid-April they supplied a set of impression trays to be tested by the medical team. Its elements have been made from a special polymer using 3D printers. The team designed and produced a total of four models of impression trays, each coming in three sizes.
With regard to the stents, the team’s main aim is to modify their geometry so as to provide for additional systems that will keep the element fixed in one position. At the moment, the final model is being developed. However, the team is yet to tackle the major task. The small dimensions and the complex geometry of the stent require that the production technology be chosen with great care.
“We have several 3D printing technologies to choose from, from the most common ones to those based on light-cured resins or polymer powders. We are also considering standard techniques like silicone mould casting – yet in this scenario we are also planning to rely on incremental methods for producing the reference model. What matters most is that the final product meets strictly defined project requirements – both in terms of geometry and stiffness. In the initial tests we are planning to rely on the model of a child’s nose developed on the basis of DICOM files obtained from computed tomography” – said Jakub Bryła, the team’s leader.
The students stress the fact that 3D print has a great potential for manufacturing personalised equipment for specific needs of individual patients. Besides the obvious idea of helping children, the main aim of the project is to investigate the capabilities, problems and advantages that come with various technologies of incremental production for the purpose of delivering components for medical applications.
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