Application of rapid manufacturing techniques in support of maxillofacial treatment: evidence of the requirements of clinical applications

The concept of applying rapid manufacturing technology to maxillofacial treatment has been described previously; however, these reports did not take into account the practicality of its actual incorporation into clinical practice. Patents in the field are based on imaging techniques combined with rapid manufacturing, which theoretically lead to reconstruction of faces. Some cases studies reported have dealt with the manufacture of prostheses on the laboratory scale. Here two case studies are reported that used imaging and rapid manufacturing techniques for making an ear prosthesis and a burns mask for two patients. Laser scanning was chosen for imaging and Thermojet printing and fused deposition modelling for rapid manufacturing. Outcomes of the study were threefold: improvement in the process, improvement in patient care, and clinical application of existing technology to healthcare. With further research this technology may aid maxillofacial prosthetists in busy facial clinics, reduce patient clinic time, and improve the final product.