TRENDS

5 Takeaways from the 3D Printing in Hospitals Forum 2022

Materialise Medical VP presenting in front of a crowd at 3D Printing in Hospitals Forum 2022

Miss the 3D Printing in Hospitals Forum this year? You’ll just have to take our word for it when we tell you about the great atmosphere that helped form many great connections. However, we can share some valuable key takeaways of the event

1. The European 3D printing in hospitals community is more connected and more extensive than ever

3D printing is no longer reserved for a select group of hospitals. With more than 100 attendees, the 3D Printing in Hospitals Forum was the largest community gathering in Europe. Hospitals of all sizes, focusing on different specialties and from every corner of Europe, met in Leuven, Belgium, to share knowledge, inspire, and get inspired by others.

The program included talks on clinical applications, regulation, operationalization of 3D labs, hands-on workshops, tips and tricks to start a 3D printing lab, and innovations, among other topics. Aside from the scientific program, great value came from interactions during coffee breaks and the evening networking event. Many collaborations were initiated and strengthened during the event, and we look forward to seeing where those collaborations will lead.

Crowd of people standing and speaking at the 3D Printing in Hospitals Forum 2022
Conference attendees connecting during a coffee break between speaker sessions.

It is great to be in Leuven — this is really the center of the medical 3D printing world because of the work that Materialise has done for over 30 years.

— Andy Christensen, Chair of the RSNA 3D Printing SIG

2. Regulatory concerns are a priority

More than a year after the medical device regulation (MDR) was applied, many questions still remain. We aimed to solve some of those doubts in the panel "Implications of Medical Device Regulations on 3D Printing at Point of Care". This panel featured An Vijverman, a partner at the Dewallens & partners law firm which specializes in life sciences and health law, who guided us through the theoretical aspect of the MDR. She gave special attention to the legal qualification of point-of-care (POC) 3D-printed devices and to the Hospital Use Exemption. She was followed by Benjamin Tuts, Materialise Quality Manager in the medical department, who gave the industry perspective of Quality and Quality Management Systems (QMS). Noteworthy is his view of QMS as an investment rather than a cost, given that it decreases risks, improves efficiency, and overall leads to increased patient satisfaction and safety. We ended the session with Dr. Alessandro Tel, Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgeon at Udine University Hospital, sharing his journey to compliance with MDR, including implementing a QMS. He illustrated the process and benefits of MDR compliance using a very complex clinical case as an example with virtual planning and 3D design and printing of anatomical models and surgical guides.

3. Case management and quality management systems are essential

The MDR Hospital Use Exemption requires hospitals to have a QMS, which includes case management. This was one of the topics most overheard in the corridors of the event. Quality management is essential to comply with MDR and ensure that hospital 3D printing labs offer the best possible patient experience and care.

The exact requirements of the MDR Hospital Use Exemption still require some more guidance, but what is clear is that QMS and case management are a necessity in 3D printing hospital labs.

During the event, Materialise briefly presented future plans regarding QMS and case management products and opened the door to collaborations with hospitals to achieve the best fitting tool in the market for 3D printing hospital labs.

4. Augmented reality is the ideal complement for 3D printing

It seems increasingly apparent that the question is not if hospitals will adopt augmented reality. It is when and how. During the event, we shared some of the innovations that Materialise is working on. Augmented reality (AR) was a clear winner, with people constantly gathering around to experiment with the new tools.

As AR is gaining momentum, the number of possible applications is increasing, from training to visualization of clinical cases, prototyping devices, and even intraoperative use. This technology also has the benefit of improving communication and collaboration between remotely located teams. Moreover, hardware capabilities are improving and becoming more affordable, making it more accessible and thus contributing to adopting the technology.

Man wearing a VR headset in a crowd of people at the 3D Printing in Hospitals Forum 2022
A conference attendee tests out Materialise’s newest mixed reality app on a clinical case.

5. Foundation of the European 3D Printing in Hospitals Special Interest Group

On the second day of the forum, 17 of the most important professionals in the sector met in Leuven to initiate the 3D Printing in Hospitals Special Interest Group. These thought leaders came from 15 different hospitals from all over Europe. This group aims to unify the voices of all European professionals to increase awareness about the capabilities of 3D printing in hospitals and strengthen the community.

In the meeting, the group's key priorities were defined, namely reimbursement, quality and compliance, and education. Moreover, a group of core leaders was chosen to drive the strategy during the first year.

We are confident that the Special Interest Group will have a crucial role in shaping the future of 3D printing in hospitals in Europe.

Overall, the forum was two days filled with energy, inspiration, and collaboration. It was wonderful to witness how the 3D printing in hospitals community is so eager to collaborate and use their collective knowledge to grow exponentially. We look forward to seeing the innovative developments and collaborations spurred by this event. See you at the 2023 3D Printing in Medicine Forum!

Watch our video to see some highlights:

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