Rapid Prototyping in the Middle East’s Only Reconstructive Surgery Hospital


The world is constantly being awed by how rapid prototyping and 3D printing are reshaping reality as we know it. With various uses in different industries such as automobile engineering, aerospace, industrial and medical sectors; rapid prototyping is soon going to become a reliable manufacturing method for cases where customization is the precondition. The medical industry began to make use of rapid prototyping for artificial limbs and prosthetics; which has become immensely popular among experts working in these areas. Certain patients and injuries require prosthetic limbs that have to be fitted exactly to that situation, which is not possible to make using traditional manufacturing methods. This is where the properties of rapid prototyping can help out. Offering tweaks and changes beyond what is possible in traditional assembly lines; 3D printing gives that flexibility of making customized and highly specialized changes. In reconstructive surgery too 3D printing can help make really minor tweaks that will suit each and every patient’s unique case of injury.


The world has seen countless times how rapid prototyping is making amazing breakthroughs in the field of medicine. Allowing prosthetic limbs to be designed easily, it also cuts down costs and can be personalized for each individual patient’s needs. Great news for the only reconstructive surgery hospital in the Middle East- a new 3D printer is being installed especially for their premises. This month, rapid prototyping will become available for a place where it is needed on an urgent basis. In the capital of Jordan, a new 3D printer that is able to produce prosthetic eyes and ears will be installed at a hospital. This hospital at Amman will cater to the victims of all the war-torn areas of the Middle East.


At present, Jordan happens to be one of the only few countries of the Middle East that has remained politically stable. It is functioning as a refuge of some sort for people who are fleeing active wars of Syria, Iraq, Palestine and other such countries. Run by an organization called Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as the celebrated Doctors Without Borders, the reconstructive surgery hospital in Amman happens to be the only one in that region. Essential support and care is provided to patients who have suffered from all types of trauma and serious injuries as a result of the violence of the ongoing wars.


At least ten thousand operations have been conducted from this hospital on more than four thousand patients. These patients are victims of torture and have faced casualties in both civilian and armed conflicts. The hospital has been serving patients for over ten years, many of whom are at amputation risk, suffering from burns or are confined to wheelchairs. Many of them need artificial skin fitted; many need hip or joint replacements often. However, many lose their ears and eyes to severe violence, which cannot be addressed most of the time. Hence, the treatment facilities of the hospital has been extended manifold due to the addition of their new 3D printer as patients who are missing ears and eyes can now be fitted with them. The medical team is ecstatic about this new addition to their medical arsenal.


There are numerous advantages of using rapid prototyping for production of prosthetic limbs as it has already been recognized by the industry experts. As the materials required come rather cheap, the prosthetic body parts can be manufactured with 3D printing much more easily. In volatile situations like in the Middle East, resources are hardly available for sophisticated manufacturing of limbs. Hence this can be used to the advantage of war torn areas. A drastic speeding up of the production process can be noticed when rapid prototyping is involved, particularly when it comes to producing small items requiring precision. The sheer number of patients coming in at the MSF hospital in Amman can be overwhelming, and the rate at which violence can escalate is unforeseen. Hence rapid prototyping is ideal for emergency situations.


Adding to the long list of benefits remains the fact that rapid prototyping is almost always error free. You get exactly what you specify in the 3D computer CAD design. Hence the ability to produce something directly and exactly the same as the original design allow the flexibility of a wide range of customization. A new body part produced with rapid prototyping can be personalized for each patient according to the specifications of the doctor and the comfort of the user. Rapid prototyping technology allows the wearers to get fitted with a part that is tailored exactly to their bodies. This is crucial when applied to the manufacturing process of replaceable eyes and ears like the MSF are conducting in Jordan. The exact color of an iris for example, can be replicated as well as the exact shape of the ear. These very features makes a big difference in the lives of the patients, offering great help to them to return back to their normal lives after the unbearable physical as well as psychological trauma. These patients seldom have access to any kind of support networks or even basic pharmaceutical care when they reach home.


As horrible as the war situation seems in the Middle East, it won’t be returning to normal in foreseeable future at this rate. However, it is very promising to see that the treatment possibilities are being expanded through rapid prototyping.


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