Santiago, Lucas, and Matías met in college while studying biomedical engineering. What started as their hobby of building a 3D printer quickly turned into an opportunity to innovate in biomedical engineering. The three decided to combine their passion for both of these areas and form Mirai3D, using 3D printing to tackle a major problem they discovered in the medical space.
Based in Argentina, Mirai3D uses state of the art technology to directly 3D print multi-color surgical planning models.
Increasingly in modern medicine, surgeons use data from CT and MRI scans to help construct accurate 3D images of their patients. These are then 3D printed and used to help plan surgeries. This is especially beneficial during intricate procedures that require multi-specialty surgeons. Surgeons are able to sterilize their prints and take them into the operating room for visual reference and practice before performing surgery on their patients.
3D printing has been used in thousands of surgeries around the world with countless stories of how it has brought measurable value to the surgical planning process. There is no doubt that 3D printed surgical guides are helping make surgeries safer and more successful.
The question then became: why is 3D printing not being used more often in surgeries?
The answer is simple - cost.
While the technology is significantly newer in Argentina, it is also not widely used within the US and UK due to high costs. Mirai3D noticed that large hospitals in the US and UK would buy big, expensive 3D printers. Insurance companies would refuse to pay for them and in turn, those costs would get transferred to patients who would deem a 3D print as unnecessary without realizing the actual potential.
Having studied the surgical guide fabrication process, the three founders were confident they could solve this problem by tackling the major cost drivers at the source.
Unlike many hospitals, Mirai3D decided to stay away from PolyJet and colorjet because of their excessive equipment and operating costs. Mirai3D looked for options that would provide the benefits of low equipment and operating costs but still maintain the ability to print large and structurally stable components. They turned to FFF printing. Given that these models would require multiple colors, they looked to Palette for reliable and automated multi-material capabilities.
With the 3D printing systems that Mirai3D has developed, they have been able to reduce costs and create a surge of demand for their offerings. Mirai3D’s models are being used in surgeries today and making a positive impact on patients’ lives.
A recent surgery performed by Dr. Gonzalo Vitagliano, Head of Uro-Oncology and Urolaparoscopy at the Hospital Alemán of Buenos Aires. The surgery involved removing multiple bilateral renal tumors for a 73-year-old man. Such surgeries are notoriously difficult to perform. This case was no different as there was a difficult decision to make regarding the order of treating the two kidneys. Dr. Vitagliano and his team faced the challenge of planning the best surgical strategy.
Their initial plan was to perform surgery on the left kidney, remove the three tumors, and defer the right kidney for a second procedure at a later date. They came up with this plan prior to receiving the 3D model but after the modeling was done and the strategy was reanalyzed, the team decided to perform on the right kidney.
Both Dr. Vitagliano and the team believe that the 3D model equipped them with better anatomic information, allowing them to plan the angle of dissection ahead of the surgery and improve their precision.
I believe that 3D modeling for complex renal tumors has become vital in my daily practice. Surprises are usually fun; however, not in the operating room where safety is the primal goal. 3D modeling has revolutionized the way I perform laparoscopic surgery, taking away the element of surprise and replacing it for certainty. As such, my practice has become safer and more predictable.
- Dr. Vitagliano
In the end, the operation was successful, with minimal ischemia time (the process cutting off and restoring blood supply during a surgery), and a short hospital stay.