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Artec Eva helps to create cutting-edge face prostheses for children with severe burns

Challenge: A pediatric rehabilitation facility in France needed a fast, precise, contactless, and totally safe technology to help treat severely burned children.

Solution: Artec Eva, Artec Leo, Artec Studio, Geomagic Freeform, Formlabs

Result: Unique 3D-printed masks helping to heal burns were created based on highly precise Artec Eva 3D scans as an alternative to the traditional plaster method.

Why Artec? A leading 3D tech manufacturer, Artec 3D has provided countless medical professionals with safe, fast, and portable solutions for taking accurate measurements and creating bespoke prosthetic and orthotic devices.

Romans Ferrari Face Masks

Romans Ferrari’s collaboration with leading 3D companies resulted in a revolutionary digital workflow for creating custom compressive masks

Pediatric burn care: the challenge

Thinking of pediatric burn injuries inspires deep sympathy in anyone’s heart, simply because of the amount of pain they cause, both physically and emotionally. The process of recovering from such injury is immensely hard on the entire family, and is slow and challenging. Resilience and a sense of progress are essential ingredients for hope that is vital to burn victims as they rebuild their lives. Knowing that innovation in healthcare can provide all that is a relief, to say the least.

Regardless of the kind of burn a child has suffered, all burns are synonymous to stress, fear, and trauma. Thus, helping burn victims involves a lot of patience plus personalized care based on cutting-edge solutions, which didn’t use to be easily accessible. Luckily, nowadays there are technologies that can also contribute to the emotional support that small patients need to heal.

One such technology, 3D scanning, has revolutionized healthcare with such applications as 3D-printed prosthetics and orthotics, digital maxillofacial surgery, and more. A brilliant illustration for this is a recent partnership between Italian and French professionals, famously advancing additive manufacturing in medicine. This pilot initiative, jointly run by 3DZ and Romans Ferrari, a pediatric rehabilitation clinic in Lyon, set a completely new standard in acute and reconstructive burn care.

All-star team to match the mission

Each of the companies is a pacesetter in what they do: a trusted long-term partner of Artec 3D, serving as an authorized reseller of 3D technology, 3DZ boasts a number of innovative offices all over the world, as well as a wealth of expertise in the industry. Romans Ferrari Center in Lyon is a facility with highly qualified teams of doctors, nurses, and rehabilitation staff doing pioneering work in wound care, scar treatment, and reconstructive surgery. Currently, the specialists of Romans Ferrari treat 25% of severely burnt children in France: along with the immediate help in healing, the Romans Ferrari center is instrumental in minimizing scarring and getting their young patients back on track, able to live their daily life with as few disruptions as possible.

Based in Miribel near Lyon, one of the French centers for innovative solutions, the clinic uses gradual dermal maturation devices (DMDG), which allow faster regeneration of tissues with the aid of compression. In this particular collaboration, Jean-François Veauville, a board member at Romans Ferrari and a former aeronautical engineer in Toulouse, commissioned a study at École centrale de Lyon to understand whether 3D printing could be used to produce the mask directly from 3D scanning. After 6 months of research, the results showed that 3D printing was the best solution, and the rehabilitation center was prompted by the students from École Centrale to contact 3DZ’s French division for some advice on the 3D process.

Romans Ferrari Face Masks

The rehabilitation facility accepts children and adolescents from all across France

The pediatric rehabilitation center already dealt successfully with Artec 3D’s ambassadors in the past, getting their Artec Eva from CADVision, so for this project, the clinic had the right 3D scanner all ready for action. What was left to do was to figure out the 3D printing side of the project. For this the medical specialists turned to Formlabs, one of the world leaders in 3D printing. The plan emerged: to get the facial scan of young patients, use Formlabs’ Fuse 1 selective laser sintering (SLS) printer, and use it as a positive for thermoforming the final compression device. This would involve scanning a patient to get a 3D file, processing it to seamlessly import into CAD software, send it to the printer, and have the result in just a few hours.

Medical revolution in the making: 3D for prosthetics

Romans Ferrari’s medical staff had been treating severely burned children for many years, and were now committed to finding a less painful alternative to traditional ways. Their main objective was to create special masks, able to heal burns on children’s faces and other body parts. Naturally, this was a project of great delicacy, specifically when reproducing the shapes of burnt faces. To make an exact and flexible reproduction of a child’s face, the digital replica of the utmost precision needed to be obtained before creating a facial prosthesis (simply put, a plate that is placed on the face). This is exactly where Artec Eva took the stage.

Romans Ferrari Face Masks

An orthoprosthetist 3D scanning the face of a patient with Artec Eva

Prosthetists and many other medical professionals have consistently chosen Eva over the years to streamline their workflows for a good reason. This versatile and lightweight 3D scanner has repeatedly demonstrated its capacity to accurately record surfaces of all kinds, including those of the entire human body and different body parts. Artec Eva has been a go-to 3D scanning device in healthcare thanks to both consistent level of precision and a very mild learning curve: its ease of use delights and inspires both newbies and seasoned medical specialists. Based on an utterly safe structured-light technology, the scanner is entirely contactless, quick, and precise, which turned out to be just the right attributes for the project.

The entire process of creating face masks for burn victims used to have a traditional plaster technique at the core – a conventional procedure, in which plaster strips are put directly to the skin and used to model the face. Needless to say, this method was incredibly painful, especially to the sensitive children’s skin. During this much hurting, uncomfortable, and frightening procedure of putting a strain on already fragile skin, a child eventually experienced the next trauma.

Romans Ferrari Face Masks

The center’s doctor marks the locations of targeted reliefs for Laura Weibel, a patient at Romans Ferrari

The project carried out by 3DZ and Romans Ferrari made it possible to completely reshape the procedure by making it child-friendly, generally less invasive, and much more efficient. In essence, the companies replaced the plaster cast with a 3D scan of the patient’s face. Thanks to Artec Eva, they were able to obtain a perfect reproduction of a patient’s face in all its details without coming into a slightest contact with their skin.

The prosthesis was then created, with the scan serving as a basis, making it both non-contact and more accurate. A 3D scan of the child’s face made with Artec Eva was the initial, extremely accurate three-dimensional image. The scanned file was then processed in Artec Studio and transferred to Geomagic Freeform software to provide the ideal shape for the mask. All this was followed by Formlabs 3D printer working on creating the final mask. The finished product was a precise, exact, and custom-made replica of the patient’s face, with silicone devices placed inside the facial prosthesis. These additional devices massage the burned area and allow for better healing and scarring.

Romans Ferrari Face Masks

Working on the 3D data before creating a 3D-printable model.

“3D technology is an essential phase of our new workflow and has allowed us to produce more than a hundred masks in one year. We could not achieve this level of production with conventional methods,” said Christophe Debat, Managing Director of the Centre Romans Ferrari.

More opportunities to drive the project to new horizons

Shortly after implementation, the project caused a huge resonance at conferences, professional meetings, and technology exhibitions, the 2023 edition of the Global Industrie Lyon in particular. Inspired by the revolutionary results achieved by Romans Ferrari’s team, Artec 3D and 3DZ offered the center to test Artec’s next-generation 3D scanner, Artec Leo, which has been complementing (and often contesting) its predecessor’s success in the medical field. The idea behind this experimental run was to check if Leo could boost the workflow and enable an even more rapid and cost-efficient creation of 3D-printed masks for burn victims.

Romans Ferrari Face Masks

3D-printed molds out of silicone serve as the positive for thermoforming the final mask out of a transparent plastic

Romans Ferrari’s specialists got to try out Artec’s legendary wireless device in different conditions and the initial impressions were more than inspiring. Even though the medical team had only just started exploring the full potential of the AI-driven 3D scanner, they found it fast, intuitive, and extremely convenient – with no cables getting in the way, the 3D replica built on the HD screen in real time, and Leo’s unique processing capabilities, they could entirely concentrate on their patients. “When we are scanning children with Eva, we take the first scan and then merge it with the rest. With Leo, we stop if the person has moved, but it’s ok because Leo would automatically merge the images and we can go on with the scanning and finish it. This is a very valuable feature,” said one of the medical specialists involved.

Romans Ferrari Face Masks

Artec Leo

Another unexpected advantage was seen when Leo’s flashing LED lights were turned off. “When we switch off the flash in Eva, there is no light [from the scanner] whatsoever,” a Romans Ferrari expert elaborated. “There is an enormous advantage with Leo – we saw it just this morning when we scanned a little girl. Even when the flash was off, some lights remained, she stayed focused on those lights and followed the lens [with her eyes]. Because of this, we find Leo particularly interesting, especially for scanning children.”

Healing that’s more than physical recovery

Undoubtedly, burn injuries have a profound and long-lasting impact on a human’s mental health and physical well-being. Needless to say, if it is a child that suffered a severe burn, the painful experience intensifies dramatically. In this case, the most advanced treatment timely available could not only reduce pain and boost healing, but also bring children back to life by restoring their emotional energy.

Romans Ferrari Face Masks

The new compression devices help scars heal, preventing complications, and making the skin more flexible

“As healthcare professionals, we need to reinvent ourselves every day for the sake of patients. 3D scanning is a real medical revolution, since beyond participating in physical recovery, it contributes to improving the quality of life and giving to each child the strength and confidence they need to recover,” said Joël Lhermenault, Director of the Centre Romans Ferrari.

Artec 3D scanners are not new to groundbreaking pediatric care: be it helping to give new ears to young microtia patients, creating helmets for children with brain-related neurological conditions, customizing 3D-printed prostheses, or designing the world’s finest kids’ respirator masks – it never fails to provide precision, speed, and comfort.

What do all of these projects have in common? The idea that 3D technology brings support, change, and hope every child needs to thrive.

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