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A rapid prototyping service can speed up medical device development

Ideas can turn into actual devices much sooner when prototypes can be created using 3D printing. That’s what they are now doing at Boston Children’s Hospital Simulator Program.

The Boston Children’s Hospital Simulator Program, SIMPeds, has begun making its 3D printing and engineering service available to help hospital staff rapidly prototype new devices. The goal is to get ideas put into motion quickly so that they can get to the full development phase sooner.

Originally, the hospital’s 3D printing program was designed primarily to print patient anatomy to help plan surgeries. This new reason to print brings an additional element to the program.

“We’re excited by the growing number of people who have approached us wanting to make devices ranging from medical equipment to replacement parts to tailored devices for our patients,” said SIMPeds Director Peter Weinstock, MD, PhD. “Many of those coming to us are clinicians who have never worked with engineers and need help taking their idea to a first prototype. The response has been amazing.”

Currently at the hospital, these are some of the current projects:

  • 3D printing for a device for scrubbing central line hubs
  • A wearable device to help mothers breastfeed premature newborns, babies with conditions such as tongue-tie or cleft lip/palate or any infant who is having trouble nursing
  • Adaptive equipment for children with cerebral palsy and other conditions.

“Our ultimate goal isn’t just to make widgets on demand, but to empower people to take the next steps with their ideas,” Melissa Burke, SIMPeds director of operations said. “We’re simply an engineering stepping stone to the inventor’s next phase.”

SIMPeds’ rapid prototyping capabilities will be on display at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Global Pediatric Innovation Summit + Awards on November 9 and 10.