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Stratasys puts 3D printers to work for brain surgery practice

The Israeli tech firm teamed with a medical research facility in Buffalo, New York, to 3D print anatomical models of a patient's entire brain vessel anatomy before she underwent a medical procedure to treat an aneurysm.

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3D replica of a brain aneurysm. Via Stratasys

Stratasys said Tuesday that it has co-developed a technique for surgical pre-planning that could help significantly reduce the risks associated with brain surgery.

The Israeli tech firm recently teamed with the Jacobs Institute, a medical research facility in Buffalo, New York, to 3D print anatomical models of a patient's entire brain vessel anatomy before she underwent a medical procedure to treat a brain aneurysm.

A team of doctors and researchers used the patient's CT scan to create a life-sized replica of the aneurysm. The model was produced to fully mimic the feel of human tissue and its vascular structure, Stratasys said.

"Our original plan was to treat her aneurysm with a metallic basket - delivered into the area with a tiny tube. After attempting the procedure on the 3D printed replica, we realized it just wasn't going to work," said Dr. Adnan Siddiqui, Chief Medical Officer at The Jacobs Institute. "Based on the Stratasys 3D printed model, our team was able to pre-empt potential complications and devise a much more optimal means of treating Teresa's [Flint] aneurysm."

The replica was printed using the Stratasys TangoPlus photopolymer material on the Objet Eden260V professional 3D printer, Stratasys said.

Theses types of medical breakthroughs are a welcome respite for Stratasys, which has been bogged down this year with a string of quarterly losses. In early November, Stratasys reported a third quarter net loss of $938 million due to a write-down of acquisitions such as Makerbot, and admitted that consumers are hesitant to buy 3D printing systems.

But as one of the most dominant players in the 3D printer space, Stratasys has aggressively gone after the medical industry with its line of Poly-Jet printers, which are touted for their speed and accuracy. The focus on medical is a logical choice for Stratasys, as the industry has one of the strongest business cases for 3D printers.

So far there are only a handful of major 3D printer players, with Stratasys and 3D Systems leading the charge. Although HP has somewhat thrown its hat into the ring, with plans to enter the market in 2016.

According to research firm Gartner, 3D printer spending will rise from $1.6 billion this year to $13.4 billion in 2018.

Previously: Stratasys warns Q3 will fall short, plots MakerBot writedown | HP: Could it buy Stratasys, accelerate 3D printing drive? | HP Inc.'s future growth rides on 3D printing inroads|Stratasys cuts outlook; says easy growth over for 3D printing