Medical implants and printable body parts to drive 3D printer growth

Its use is already commonplace in dentistry, I wonder where we’ll be in 10 years?….

Medical implants and printable body parts to drive 3D printer growth
With 3D bio-printing in the pipeline, dental and medical applications could be worth $6bn by 2025

From The Observer / Guardian here.

False teeth, hip joints and replacement knees – and potentially printable skin and organs – will drive growth in the burgeoning market for 3D printers over the next decade, according to new research.

A report suggests that dentistry and medicine will increasingly harness one of the 21st century’s most exciting technological breakthroughs.

The technology is better known to British households for its ability to replace broken crockery or produce awkward figurine “selfies.”

But a report by Cambridge-based market research firm IDTechEx says ceramic jaw or teeth implants and metal hip replacements will become increasingly common 3D fare.

The parts are created by nozzles laying down fine sedimentary layers of material that build a product indistinguishable from an item that has rolled off a factory conveyor belt.

The dental and medical market for 3D printers is expected to expand by 365% to $867m (£523m) by 2025, according to IDTechEx analysts, even before bio-printing technology is taken into account. If bio-printing becomes suitable for commercial use – which scientists hope will allow the printing of pieces of skin, liver or kidney using live cells – analysts estimate the medical market could reach a value of $6bn or more within 10 years.

While printing of complete organs for transplants may be decades away, the use of pieces of tissue for laboratory toxicology tests for cosmetics or drugs could be ready within five years, helping the medical market for 3D printers overtake all other sectors.

Dr Jon Harrop, a director of IDTechEx, said: “Bio printing is a bit unsure as it doesn’t exist commercially at the moment but all the medical professionals we interviewed thought it was highly likely to be commercial within 10 years.”

In the US, dental labs have invested in technology that can scan a patient’s teeth so new teeth can be produced by pressing the print button.

Harrop said there are a number of stumbling blocks in the way of the commercial application of bio printing, but even in the past year, scientists have been able to extend the life of a piece of skin tissue created in the lab from just a few hours to 40 days, taking it closer to the three months required for toxicology tests.

At present, 3D printers are most widely used in the automotive industry where they help produce prototypes for new cars or car parts. The next biggest market is aerospace, where manufacturers are using the technology to make lighter versions of complex parts for aeroplanes.

Already, 3D printers have been used by the medical industry to create a jaw, a pelvis and several customised hip replacements from metal. This year, surgeons in Newcastle upon Tyne created a titanium pelvis for a man who lost half his original one to a rare bone cancer, while in May doctors in Southampton completed Britain’s first hip replacement made using a 3D printer. Professor Richard Oreffo at the University of Southampton, who helped develop the hip replacement technique, said at the time: “The 3D printing of the implant in titanium, from CT scans of the patient and stem cell graft, is cutting edge and offers the possibility of improved outcomes for patients.”

Dentists have been using 3D printers to create exact replicas of jaws or teeth in order to aid complex procedures for a few years, but increasingly they are creating implants made of durable plastic or medical ceramics.

The Monday Morning Quote #280

It’s the end of the 4th of 5 weekends in the month of August, I am told that this is the first time for 800 years that there have been five Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays in August and that this will not happen again for another 800 years. I’d like to mark the event with some words from a great Welsh poet. Newport doesn’t have a great tradition for literature although it does have a good reputation for music.

Growing up 10 miles or so away in Cardiff we always thought that best thing that happened to Newport was the M4 extension which bypassed the city centre. The boys who I met at school who all came on “the Newport bus” had different accents from everyone else and seemed another breed. We used to make sarcastic comments that they had a chips on their shoulders and were the poor relation being so close to, yet eclipsed by, Cardiff.

The town, which became a city in 2002, had something of an ambiguous state. It is the largest conurbation in the county of Monmouthshire and was bigger and more important than Cardiff until after 1850 when the docks, coal & steel led the rise of the ultimate capital city. Monmouthshire, later temporarily known as Gwent, has its boundaries defined by the rivers Rhymney to the west and Wye to the East where it is flanked by the counties of Glamorgan and Gloucestershire respectively.

What isn’t widely known is that the county was considered to be part of England rather than Wales until it was finally clarified in 1972. Hence, we used to say that those of us from Cardiff who attended my school were actually ‘educated’ in England as St Illtyds College was to the east of the river Rhymney.

Whatever its status one of its sons W.H.Davies wrote a poem that most have heard. The first volume of his autobiography is a lovely read and spawned the name of one of the better bands of the 1970s.


 Enjoy your weekends.


WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.


GDC & ASA – a word of advice – not that I expect the GDC to listen.

This news release from the BDA brings to mind one of the earliest and most useful bits of advice my father gave to me, “When you’re in a hole, stop digging!” Will the GDC learn or will it carry on money up against a wall until it’s all gone? I likened Bill Moyes to his namesake David three months ago but I feel he’s more like Dickie Bird officiating at ice hockey. No confidence? Career building? A lack of understanding of dentistry? As a famous fictional PM said, “I couldn’t possibly comment”.

That will be the same ASA that has shown such an understanding of dentistry in the past with this paradoxical ruling.


21 August 2014

This is not a spoof: GDC teams up with ASA on ‘irresponsible’ ads

The British Dental Association (BDA) has responded to news that the General Dental Council (GDC) is to team up with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to combat ‘irresponsible’ advertising.

The dental regulator recently spent £27,715 on an advertising campaign encouraging complaints from private dental patients, including a full page colour advert in the Telegraph that has drawn criticism from across the profession.
The Chair of the BDA’s Principal Executive Committee, Mick Armstrong, said:
“How fitting that in the week Facebook announces a ‘satire’ tag word reaches us the GDC is to team up with the ASA on ‘irresponsible’ advertising.
“A quick glimpse at the GDC website has assured us we are not looking at a spoof, but the latest vanity project from a regulator in crisis.
“The dental regulator has just spent thousands on a campaign that is clearly at odds with its own policy on advertising. It’s time the GDC practised what it preaches.”

The GDC’s guidance states that adverts help patients make informed choices about their dental care and ‘advertising that is false, misleading or has the potential to mislead, is unprofessional, may lead to a fitness to practise investigation and can be a criminal offence.’ The guidance also advises dental registrants to provide ‘balanced, factual information which enables them (patients) to make an informed choice about their treatment’.
The regulator’s Telegraph advert failed to mention that patients could discuss matters with their dental practice directly, before enlisting the support of the GDC’s Dental Complaints Service (DCS). Instead of referring to local resolution as a first step to addressing concerns, the GDC advert encouraged patients who are ‘not completely happy’ with their private dental care to contact the DCS.

The Monday Morning Quote #279

“Live all you can: it’s a mistake not to.

It doesn’t matter what you do in particular, so long as you have had your life.

If you haven’t had that, what have you had?”

Henry James, The Ambassadors


Southern Dental circled by private equity bidders

From the Telegraph website.

Southern Dental circled by private equity bidders
Dentist chain looks set to become latest healthcare company owned by private equity as CapVest and Graphite compete for the business.

Dentist chain Southern Dental is close to joining the growing list of British healthcare companies in private equity ownership as a sale of the business nears.
Mid-market private equity firms CapVest and Graphite are understood to be fighting it out to secure a £100m deal for the company, which runs 74 dental practices across the south of the country.
The business was started Crawley, West Sussex by Dr Mazdak Eyrumlu in 2006 and has since grown to employ over 800 staff and dentists.
A sale will mean the latest move by private equity to move into the dental sector after Oasis Healthcare, the UK’s second largest independent dental chain was sold to Fat Face owner Bridgepoint for £185m last year.
CapVest was also involved in the bidding process for Oasis and is thought to be the favourite for Southern Dental.

The company grew its revenues by 35pc last year to £26m while it reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £5.6m for 2013.
Over 80pc of Southern Dental’s business comes from NHS treatments, which generate £21m in revenues, and £5m from private patients.
Southern Dental’s acquisition of rival private dental practices last year added £429,216 of operating profits to the balance sheet while it has debts of £22m.
The company looks after 600,00 patients in the UK offering dental implants orthodontic and minor oral surgery. There are 10,000 dental practices in the UK — 90pc of them are independent.
A sale of the company would add Southern Dental to the list of healthcare companies including Spire, BMI, Four Seasons, HCA, Southern Cross, Independent Healthcare and Partnerships in Care which have been owned by buyout groups.
CapVest, Graphite and Southern Dental all declined to comment.

The Monday Morning Quote #278

I have posted this before but it’s worth re-visting if only for the photograph of the author by Jane Bown & the tale of how it was taken.

“Ever tried.
Ever failed.
No matter.
Try Again.
Fail again.
Fail better.

Gouted, Grounded, Gutted.

The training was going well, the sponsorship less so but the big push had always been planned for the last fortnight when I was set to make personal appeals to friends and family.

Last Sunday morning I woke with a pain in my left foot, I put it down to a habit of walking around wearing old shoes without tying the laces, the curling of my toes within the shoes will often make their controlling muscles ache. The pain got worse during the day but wasn’t too much of a nuisance. In the early hours of Monday morning I had to get up to take some pain killers and come the morning proper it was clear that there was something not right at all. The pain was localised to the base of my big toe which was swollen and tender. Walking was a challenge.

So a day of leg elevation, icing and regular ibuprofen and I convinced myself that things were getting better.

Another broken night’s sleep and an increasingly swollen foot argued the opposite.

Same story through Tuesday and the night.

On Wednesday I rang the local GP practice in Skibbereen to see if I could get any help.

My recent experiences with GP practices have not been great. The dealings with the practice where I am registered in Cardiff  resulted in a summons to discuss my behaviour and attitude with their senior partner and practice manager. (Result Rees 3 Practice 0 and I take no pride in that at all, should achieving health care have to be an exercise in confrontation?)

From call, through consultation, to follow up I have been delighted. A ‘sit and wait’ appointment that morning, good. A friendly, welcoming GP who confirmed my diagnosis of gout – less so. The ‘whilst you’re here we’ll just take your BP and sort out an appointment for routine bloods tomorrow’ approach was very welcome compared with my Cardiff practice, but that’s another story.

It was quite clear that I was dealing with individuals who cared for their patients first and put tickboxes last.

Conclusion not so good but was what I feared. ‘You should not continue with your proposed trip to Africa next week. If you have another acute flare up and they need to get you off the mountain having had this so recently, your medical insurance will be invalid.”

I didn’t want to hear that. I couldn’t disagree.

  • Time to let Bridge2Aid know that I had let them down – I will do something else to make it up to you folks.
  • A discussion with the insurers about cancellations etc – all should be fine administratively.
  • Now letting folks who have sponsored me know that they will be getting a refund from JustGiving when they sort it out and I will of course make up the shortfall of 5% that they charge.
  • To the rest of the party I hope you have a fantastic trip, I’m sorry I must miss the opportunity to meet and share your company.

So a period of time to rest and get better, the steroids and anti-inflammatories are doing their job and I am no longer as ill as I was – you don’t realise how sick you have been until you start to improve.

It gives me the opportunity to reflect on a challenging 15 months and to think about the forthcoming re-launch of the business. Catching up with my fiction reading in between sleeping I came across this line from Horace at the start of the final chapter of the first Cormaran Strike novel which seemed apt.

“Nihil est ab omni. Parte beatum” and for those of you, like me, without the benefit of a classical education this translates as:

“Nothing is an unmissed blessing.”

Doesn’t make me feel any less gutted though.


The Monday Morning Quote #277

“Nothing will be done if someone waited till they could do it so well that no one could find fault with it.”

Cardinal Newman


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