South by Southwest (SXSW) kicks off next week in Austin, Texas, and there seems to be something interesting for just about everyone. Though the event might be most popular for its huge music festival, SXSW also consists of a range of conferences, covering topics from cryptocurrency to design to health and medtech. This year, 3D printing will be making an appearance at the global event, with a focus on its medical applications.
On March 12, Dr. Tim Brown, a consultant transplant surgeon at Belfast City Hospital in Ireland, will take the SXSW stage to speak about how he used 3D printing to help perform a life-changing transplant surgery on a young mother. The case in question was enabled thanks to a collaboration with axial3D, a Northern Irish medical 3D printing company.
Dr. Brown will tell SXSW attendees the story of how he used a 3D printed patient specific model to prepare for a complex operation which involved transplanting a father’s kidney (which had a tumour on it) into his daughter.
“As the cyst was buried deep within the renal cortex and therefore invisible on the back bench, a replica 3D model was used for preoperative planning and intra-operative localization of the lesion,” Dr. Brown said. “It’s difficult to underestimate how valuable this strategy was in terms of preoperative planning and achieving successful clearance of the lesion.”
Dr. Brown will be accompanied at SXSW by a number of axial3D team members, including CEO Daniel Crawford and Operations Manager Cathy Coomber, as well as Nigel McAlpine, Immersive Technology Lead at Digital Catapult, a UK-based non-profit. Not only will they discuss how the specific case was helped along by 3D printing, but they will also partake in a panel discussion exploring the future of 3D printing, automation and machine learning in medicine.
axial3D specializes in the development of patient-specific medical models using 3D printing. Its bespoke anatomical models enable surgeons and medical professionals to better prepare for complex surgical procedures. Within healthcare, 3D printed models are becoming increasingly common, as doctors are realizing their potential for enhancing patient treatment. In particularly complex cases—such as the one to be presented at SXSW—they can provide critical visual and tactile insight into a patient’s specific condition.
Notably, axial3D is striving towards not only producing 3D printed bespoke models but also simplifying their production. The company even leverages artificial intelligence in its axial3Dassure solution to increase the automation in converting 2D medical scans into 3D printable models.
SXSW, for its part, seems to be increasing its focus on additive manufacturing technologies. Though the 3D printing industry does not yet have a conference category of its own, the technology has been sneaking in, so to speak, in other categories. Last year, for instance, the festival presented 3D printed 8-bit sushi, while in 2016, Wevolver, an open hardware platform with an emphasis on 3D printing, won the SXSW Innovation Award.
The presentation by Dr. Brown and the axial3D team, entitled “Tumours, Transplants & Technology: AI for Life,” will take place on March 12, 2019 at SXSW in Austin, Texas.