During surgery, patients' blood is often "spilt." Such blood can be returned to the body, so long as it has been properly processed to ensure that it is not tainted. The Brightwave Hemosep autotransfusion machine can do this – and its prototyping costs have been cut by 96 percent via 3D printing.
Gizmag featured the Hemosep when it was launched in 2012. The device works by collecting the blood spilt during surgery and concentrating it using a mechanical agitator. Once the blood has been prepared, the patient receives it by way of an intravenous transfusion.
There are a number of benefits to recycling a patient's own blood during surgery. As well as reducing the need for donor blood, which can often be in short supply, it minimizes the risk of complications due to potential adverse reactions to donor blood, such as contamination or immunosuppression. It also requires simpler, cheaper equipment and is much safer for children, who face greater risks than adults during such procedures.
In a blog post, 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys recently explained how Brightwake has been able to dramatically reduce the costs involved in producing prototypes for the ongoing development of the Hemosep. Each machine includes many parts and, by using a 3D printer to prototype parts rather than designing them and waiting "weeks" for them to arrive, the company has reduced its prototyping costs by 96 percent and vastly reduced the time taken for the process.
Brightwake is using a Stratasys Dimension 1200es 3D printer to produce the parts and facilitate a quicker and more iterative approach to developing the design of the Hemosep. Brightwake’s director of research Steve Cotton explains that the printer can make accurate, high-quality parts that are suitable for medical prototyping.
"Previously we had to outsource the production of these parts which took around three weeks per part," says Cotton. "Now we’re 3D printing superior strength parts overnight, cutting our prototyping costs by 96 percent and saving more than £1,000 for each 3D-printed model."
One of the first patients to benefit from the Hemosep machine was 50-year-old heart patient Julie Penoyer. Penoyer was a Jehovah’s Witness and had asked not to receive donated blood products of grounds of her beliefs. The Hemosep was able to capture, clean and return her blood without encroaching affecting these beliefs.