3-D Scanning Makes Inroads in Medtech

In early June, 3-D scanning specialist Artec (Palo Alto, CA) announced that it had struck a deal with the prosthetics firm Ottobock (Königsee, Germany). The announcement reflects growing popularity for 3-D scanning technology in the medical arena.

Because 3-D scanners excel at quickly capturing the contours of amorphous shapes and complex geometries, the applications of the technology are numerous, spanning everything from medical device manufacturing to clinical use. Ottobock’s interest in hand-operated3-D scanning technology lies in its ability to facilitate the creation of custom orthopedic and prosthetic devices. The scanners gather precise information regarding the shape of a chosen object, and can those be used to painlessly and quickly capture the shape of a patient’s residual limb. This represents a seismic shift from the traditional method of physical casting, which is cumbersome and slow.

To this end, Ottobock will resell Artec’s Eva and Spider 3-D scanners to its customers. The Eva is a lightweight device designed to quickly capture high-resolution 3-D images of everyday objects. The Spider scanner was designed for CAD applications.

3-D scanners are being used for clinical applications as well, where they are used to create everything from dental implants to compression masks for burn victims. And custom aesthetics prosthesis. In addition, they are used in medical research to capture anatomical coordinates. This functionality also enables its use in oncology and maxillo-facial surgery. In plastic surgery, the technology is being used as an aid to planning procedures and to fit aesthetic implants. The technology is also well suited to the field of orthodontics, where it can be used to analyze dental cast impressions and to plan orthodontical treatments.

The technology also can be used to produce custom products for the disabled. The Dutch company Kersten Revalidatietechniek has used the technology to produce custom wheelchairs.

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