Fusetec 3D printing human cadavers for surgical training

Photo: Fusetec

Fusetec, an Adelaide-based start-up, is 3D printing human body parts for teaching purposes during surgical training, according to Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC).

Complete with realistic, anatomically accurate bone, skin and muscle, the medical tools can also be manufactured to mimic tumours, bone fractures or defective hearts so that surgeons and students can practise specific procedures.

Fusetec also delivers bespoke jobs, manufacturing dental simulation units and replicas of animal parts to help veterinary surgeons.

Co-founders John Budgen and Mark Roe spent two-and-a-half years developing prototypes, while consulting with practicing neurosurgeons to refine anatomical accuracy.

Founded in early 2017, the company acquired its state-of-the-art 3D printer in April 2018, and printed its first product in May. It is the first commercial anatomical soft tissue reproduction company.

While cadavers cost up to $100,000, universities typically spend $1.5 million maintaining them. Fusetec’s realistic body parts, however, models cost a fraction of the cost, starting at about $1,460. The co-founders expect to see a $100 million turnover in the next five years.

“Plus, our 3D printed body parts don’t have any of the inherent risks associated with cadavers—there is no bacteria, no strict storage and disposal protocols, and no regulatory burdens. Our medical devices are mass produced, cheap, readily available, and come with pathology on demand,” Roe, the chief executive officer, told AGMC.

The company is currently collaborating with two universities on four different projects, from software development to material development.

“We simply do not have the skills in-house to do this. We are developing new IP with commercial implementations. This new IP will make our products vastly superior to anything on the market. To maintain relevance—to be a cutting edge company—you need to collaborate,” Roe said.

The company expects models will soon be customisable, with different symptoms and levels of detail.