Medical rapid prototyping applications and methods

L.C. Hieu (Cardiff School of Engineering, Cardiff University, Wales, UK)
N. Zlatov (Cardiff School of Engineering, Cardiff University, Wales, UK)
J. Vander Sloten (Department of Mechanical Engineering, Division of Biomechanics and Engineering Design, Heverlee, Belgium)
E. Bohez (School of Advanced Technologies, Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand)
L. Khanh (Department of Medical Imaging and Neurosurgery, Hanoi, Vietnam)
P.H. Binh (Department of Medical Imaging and Neurosurgery, Hanoi, Vietnam)
P. Oris (Materialise Clinical Services Inc., Glen Burnie, Maryland, USA)
Y. Toshev (Institute of Mechanics and Biomechanics, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia, Bulgaria)

Assembly Automation

ISSN: 0144-5154

Publication date: 1 December 2005



Aims to investigate medical rapid prototyping (medical RP) technology applications and methods based on reverse engineering (RE) and medical imaging data.


Medical image processing and RE are applied to construct three‐dimensional models of anatomical structures, from which custom‐made (personalized) medical applications are developed.


The investigated methods were successfully used for design and manufacturing of biomodels, surgical aid tools, implants, medical devices and surgical training models. More than 40 medical RP applications were implemented in Europe and Asia since 1999.

Research limitations/implications

Medical RP is a multi‐discipline area. It involves in many human resources and requires high skills and know‐how in both engineering and medicine. In addition, medical RP applications are expensive, especially for low‐income countries. These practically limit its benefits and applications in hospitals.

Practical implications

In order to transfer medical RP into hospitals successfully, a good link and close collaboration between medical and engineering sites should be established. Moreover, new medical applications should be developed in the way that does not change the traditional approaches that medical doctors (MD) were trained, but provides solutions to improve the diagnosis and treatment quality.


The presented state‐of‐the‐art medical RP is applied for diagnosis and treatment in the following medical areas: cranio‐maxillofacial and dental surgery, neurosurgery, orthopedics, orthosis and tissue engineering. The paper is useful for MD (radiologists and surgeons), biomedical and RP/CAD/CAM engineers.



Hieu, L., Zlatov, N., Vander Sloten, J., Bohez, E., Khanh, L., Binh, P., Oris, P. and Toshev, Y. (2005), "Medical rapid prototyping applications and methods", Assembly Automation, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 284-292.

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