PRINTMED-3D is an integrated platform for three-dimensional medical technologies designed to transform healthcare, specialized training, and the biomedical industry through the combined use of virtual reality and functional additive printing technologies.
The project has a strong interdisciplinary component, involving a team of over one hundred individuals with diverse and complementary skills, including medical professionals, engineers, computer scientists, physicists, all collaborating on the same platform with the aim of integrating innovative additive printing techniques with libraries of materials and original software solutions to achieve effective and reliable solutions in the surgical and clinical fields.
PRINTMED-3D was awarded the “Call Hub Ricerca e Innovazione” grant from the Lombardy Region (Italy) and received support from the European Regional Development Fund (POR FESR) 2014-2020 during the 2020-2022 period. The University of Milan served as the coordinating entity, with the involvement of the Department of Physics, the Center for Interdisciplinary Nanostructured Materials and Interfaces (CIMaINa), and the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery. Additionally, the IRCCS Foundation “Carlo Besta” Neurological Institute participated with its Department of Neurosurgery and the Besta NeuroSim Center (BNSC), along with innovative companies such as Dolphin Fluidics, NRGsys, Intelligenza Trasparente, and Kentstrapper. Today, PRINTMED-3D is an infrastructure that continues to work on technological innovation in the medical field at the Department of Physics and the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery of the University of Milan as part of the MUSA (Multilayered Urban Sustainability Action) project, one of the eleven innovation ecosystems funded by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.
Changing the Approach to Virtual Reality and 3D Manufacturing
One of the main challenges addressed by PRINTMED-3D is the growing demand for personalized medical solutions to ensure higher quality healthcare and its economic sustainability, with more effective treatments and reduced risks for patients, leading to shorter intervention and recovery times. This goal is achieved by starting with radiological images used to create high-fidelity virtual models of a patient’s anatomy. These models, made available in virtual reality, allow physicians to simulate complex surgical procedures ethically and repeatedly, without any risk to patients.
The use of virtual reality tools is rapidly expanding but has been disconnected from the ability to use 3D printing to reproduce models with the same haptic and functional characteristics as organs and tissues, due to the lack of printable soft material libraries and sufficiently versatile manufacturing approaches. The integration of these two approaches and the use of intelligent fluidic technologies for reproducing functional features bring about a profound transformation in the practice of virtual reality and additive printing. The result is a new model for managing and programming clinical/diagnostic information available from the Regional Healthcare System, leveraging and facilitating the transition towards a personalized medicine system that fully benefits from complex digital infrastructures (5G standards) and promotes a paradigm shift in clinical, diagnostic, pre-clinical, and educational fields.
Training surgeons and specialists through virtual reality training and haptic and morphofunctional reproductions of anatomical parts will enable highly effective educational and training methodologies, ensuring greater therapeutic outcome safety and prognosis, with significant advantages for patient care quality and healthcare expenditure sustainability.
Recently, the project gave rise to a startup called HUVANT, and thanks to the European project “TFactor,” the idea of showcasing the project to introduce people to the world of new technologies applied to the medical field was born. In March 2023, the exhibition “Tailor-Made Organs” was set up in Milan, and between May and July 2023, during the MIND Innovation Week, an installation titled “Body Fundamentals” was created at MIND. These artistic installations aimed to convey the scientific significance of these themes, raising awareness among people, potential future patients, about the benefits of new technologies on human health, with the hope of building trust between doctors and patients and simplifying the narrative through art.”
PI and SCIENTIFIC RESPONSIBLE
Professional Qualification: Full Professor of Material Structure, UNIMI, and Director of the Department of Physics “Aldo Pontremoli”
GIAN VINCENZO ZUCCOTTI
CLINICAL ACTIVITIES RESPONSIBLE
Professional Qualification: Full Professor of General Pediatrics, UNIMI, and Director of the Pediatric Clinic and the Pediatric Department at the Children’s Hospital Milano
INDUSTRIAL ACTIVITIES RESPONSIBLE
Professional Qualification: Serial Entrepreneur and CEO in the MedTech and Biotech field