Orlando medical engineering company uses 3D printing for MRI models

Innovative Medical Device Solutions battles to put 3D printer to good use amid fears

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - A medical engineering team in Orlando wants to put 3D printing technology to good use amid fears that it could fall into the wrong hands.

Those fears come after a video surfaced on YouTube showing a man firing a plastic gun that was reportedly "printed" on a 3D printer.

A 3D printer is much like a standard ink jet printer, where it layers with each pass of the conveyer belt. Instead of ink, however, the 3D printer uses plastic or metal, creating a three-dimensional object.

"Like any technology, it's bipolar," said medical printer Michael Siemers. "It can be used as a good thing or a bad thing."

Siemer and his team of engineers at Innovative Medical Device Solutions in Orlando use their facility to create medical instruments and even replacement body parts.

One of their projects used a standard image from an MRI, which they transformed into a three-dimensional layered model, complete with nasal cavities. The model is even flexible.

"It really opens up doors to designing and building whatever you like, whether it's for cost benefit or to allow bone to grow into it."

The 3D printers are available at some major retailers for about $1,000, but those models will not be able to create medical instruments or a gun, Siemer said. For that, you are more likely to shell out closer to $3,000 or $4,000. But as technology improves, the cost may come down.

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