Custom 3D Printed Plates Bring Closure to a 30-Year-Old Battle Against Cancer

“Since I got this titanium plate, my eye is back in its place. My tear, a tear I had constantly running down my face, is now gone.”

La Réunion, France. August 3, 2015. Thirty years ago, Maxime Turpin, a meterologist who has spent much of his life living alone on remote islands near Réunion, fought a battle against cancer that left him with a hole in his orbital floor that caused impaired vision and severe irritation, in addition to a visible deformity. After having returned to the mainland on Réunion itself, a 60-year-old Maxime turned to Dr. Vives, Head of the Maxillofacial Surgery Department at the University Hospital of La Réunion, to receive the treatment he needed to repair his eye. Dr Vives used a patient-specific mini-plate system from OBL, a Materialise company, to return Maxime’s eye to a physically and aesthetically comfortable position.

Interview with Maxime Turpin:


When he was thirty years old, Maxime Turpin had a maxillectomy, a procedure by which the section of his upper jaw bone affected by cancer was removed. Unfortunately, nothing could be done to reconstruct the hole of about 2.5 cm in his left orbital floor at that time. Without a surface to hold the skin around his eye up, over the years it began to droop, leaving an open gap even with his eyes shut tight. This led to Mr. Turpin suffering restless nights as his eye was in constant contact with the air, leaving him each morning with a red, irritated eye.

Upon his retirement at age 60, Mr. Turpin turned to Dr. Vives, Head of the Maxillofacial Surgery Department at the University Hospital of the Réunion Island. Once Dr. Vives analyzed the case, he began to understand its complexity. Dr. Vives figured that the best way to fix Mr. Turpin’s left orbital floor would be to insert a patient-specific implant beneath the patient’s eye.

Clinical engineers at OBL, a Paris based company from the Materialise Group, planned the case in 3D together with Dr. Vives and designed a plate modelled on the healthy side of the patient’s skull. This plate was 3D printed in titanium and inserted during surgery, restoring the position of Mr. Turpin’s eye to a physically and aesthetically comfortable position. “I could only do this operation thanks to the OBL patient-specific mini-plate system” states Dr. Vives.

After the surgery, Mr. Turpin is delighted to say that he can finally sleep without having to cover his eye each night. Also, his eye no longer waters nor does light cause him discomfort. His 30-year-old battle has finally been won.

About Materialise

With its headquarters in Leuven, Belgium, and branches worldwide, Materialise is a provider of Additive Manufacturing (AM) software solutions and sophisticated 3D printing services in a wide variety of industries, including healthcare, automotive, aerospace, art and design and consumer products. Materialise has been playing an active role in the field of 3D Printing since 1990, through its involvement in 3D Printing  for industrial and medical applications, by providing biomedical and clinical solutions such as medical image processing and surgical simulations and by developing unique solutions for its customers' prototyping, production, and medical needs. For additional information, please visit:

About OBL

Established in 1996 in Paris, France, OBL is a manufacturer of implants for maxillofacial surgery, neurosurgery and plastic surgery. Relying on a high level of technical know-how and many years of experience in the development of osteosynthesis devices and 3D Printing techniques, OBL has developed a profound scientific base. Since 2005, OBL has specialized by investing significantly in the search for customized solutions that are in harmony with the morphology and physiology of each individual patient. OBL is also part of the Materialise Group, a world leader in 3D Printing. 

About University Hospital of La Réunion

The University Hospital of La Réunion was formed as the result of a merger between two leading institutions in the region: Félix Guyon Hospital in Saint Denis and Sud Réunion Hospital in Saint-Pierre. Together, nearly 6,000 people at the University Hospital of La Réunion fulfil the tripartite mission for care, teaching and research. It functions as a point of reference for the entire population of the two islands of Mayotte and La Réunion, as well as for the wider area of ​​the Indian Ocean. The University Hospital of La Réunion delivers daily routine care in the location concerned and privileged partnerships with different medical schools allow the hospital to provide the first three years of medical training. For more information, please visit: