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Teaching & Academic Research.


Hospitals and Universities have traditionally used cadavers and anatomical mannequins to test and train medical procedures on. However there are a multitude of issues with this method:

Animal and human cadaver facilities are expensive. cadavers require advanced planning to procure tissue and tissues don’t represent targeted pathology and are typically not reusable

Facilities require extensive coordination of schedules, cleaning, and lots of preparation before and after cadavers are difficult to store for long periods, creating lots of waste

Case Studies.


Hip Dysplasia

IMG_3841IMG_3866We are currently running a study with the orthopaedic team at Alder Hey concerning hip dysplasia. Dan Perry, NIHR Clinician Scientist, Senior Lecturer University of Liverpool and Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon set the following question “Can 3D printing replace an arthrogram for hip imaging?” Hip deformity is one of the most common outcomes following many paediatric hip diseases. Reconstructive surgery is frequently employed to improve the congruency of the hip, to prolong or obviate the time-to-arthroplasty.
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Surgical decisions regarding reconstructive surgery can be challenging. A variety of imaging modalities can be helpful in guiding surgical planning. However, most of these modalities are static images, therefore they are not readily representative of the movements within a hip. An arthrogram is the most dynamic investigation offering a ‘tactile’ insight into the anatomical variants, however only offers two-dimensional imaging and necessitates a general anaesthetic and time in the operating theatre. Stratifying patients by type of deformity and delivering the optimal treatment is therefore challenging.

The widespread use of three-dimensional printing offers an opportunity to produce bespoke dynamic models of diseased hips, which would enable the surgeon to gain a greater insight into the surgery required. Such models may also be useful in the process of patient consent, and would enable surgeons to perform ‘surgery’ on the printed model preoperatively as a ‘trial-run’ or when training trainee surgeons. By testing different materials, such models may also enable surgeons to test optimal osteotomy positions (cuts in the bone), and enable them to reliably template (size) the materials required for the procedure.

The first stage of the study was to determine the face validity of 3D printing of hips amongst surgeons, to determine whether surgeons perceive this may be a useful tool. Explore surgeons attitudes to see if this could replace information gained by an arthrogram.


Complex Ankle Fractures

IMG_3857     IMG_3859

We provided 3D printed ankle bones to Roger Walton a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Alder Hey. Alder Hey have one of the largest sequences of tri-planar ankle fracture data sets and Roger was keen to explore the use of 3D printing to examine the break in a manner other than on a 2D screen.


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Roger ran a series of workshops and tutorials on the treatment of complex tri-planar ankle fractures. For these learning sessions, we separated the model along the fracture line so that the participating clinicians could see the exactly topography of the break and understand how it could be treated. The results of the workshops were incredibly positive with clinicians confirming that the models improved their understanding of the issues. As well as the much improved ability to describe the 3D configuration of the break for teaching purposes Roger has said that he believes the use of a 3D model could improve pre-operative planning and produce novel operative strategies for new cases.


Other Projects

3D LifePrints are also involved in numerous other projects that are either already running or in planning, such as:

  • The modelling and building of a 3D printed tracheotomy learning model at Alder Hey,
  • The creation of surgical simulation models for skull and brain at Alder Hey
  • The 3D printing of facial overlays at Alder Hey
  • The investigation into 3D printing orthotics for clubfoot at Alder Hey
  • The storage of historic dental data by 3D scanning and 3D printing at Alder Hey
  • With Sheffield University into the 3D printing of facial prosthetics
  • With John Moores University into the 3Dprinting of micro-cardiac structures
  • With the Virtual Engineering Centre into the merger of 3Dprinting and virtual reality technologies


3DLifePrints in the Press.


3D Lifeprints won the accolade for Stand Out Contribution of a Business Partner for its embedded 3D printing facility at Alder Hey Hospital.

UK Awards2

Stand Out Contribution of a Business Partner Award


3D Life Prints win Stand Out Contribution Award


Embedded 3D Printing Facility at Alder Hey Hospital


3D LifePrints recently provided a sterilised 3D printed child’s spine for use during a complex (and ultimately successful) 14 hour congenital kyphoscoliosis operation. This was a first for the Alder Hey Hospital in that a 3D printed model was used intra-operatively as a real-time guide.


Alder Hey Surgeons Use 3D Printed Model In Theatre


Alder Hey surgeons used 3D printed model of a spine