SAM revolutionizes 3D printing for custom-made medical products

Swiss firm Spectroplast showcases patented technology at Rapid.Tech 3D – a stage for innovative start-ups in the Medical, Dental & Orthopaedic Technology forum

For materials expert Dr Manuel Schaffner, soft, flexible, skin-compatible silicone is the go-to material for medical applications. He and his team have found a way to print silicone instead of using the customary injection moulding to process it. Silicone additive manufacturing – SAM for short – is the name of the patented process with which ETH Zürich graduate Schaffner has kick-started yet another AM revolution and industrialised it in Spectroplast, the spin-off business he founded in 2018. The team comprises just shy of 20 people, and has launched the world’s first high-precision additive silicone technology for both industrial and medical applications. Customised hearing aids, made-to-measure prostheses, and anatomical models mimicking healthy human organs and organs in different stages of disease are just some of the many medical applications that the young company is now offering. “Silicone additive manufacturing paves the way for life-enhancing and life-saving patient-specific products that have a positive impact on people’s lives. So, for example, we can make a customised implant to replace a breast removed because of cancer. There's no need to resort to ready-made parts. We’ve also been amassing experience in manufacturing custom-made heart valves,” Dr Schaffner adds. He will report on this and other topics at the Medical, Dental & Orthopaedic Technology forum at the Rapid.Tech 3D specialist conference on 17 May 2022.

The Swiss start-up also sees the Rapid.Tech 3D exhibition as a chance to present its on-demand services with 3D silicone printing for other industry fields. “Erfurt is well-known for its focus on AM users. That’s why this event really appeals to us,” says the Spectroplast founder and CEO.

Flexibly configurable anatomical models

Another innovative start-up to be represented at the forum is Munich-based firm Anamos. Dr Hannah Riedle founded the company in 2020 to produce, using additive manufacturing, anatomical soft-tissue structures for the realistic simulation of surgical procedures. She demonstrates how these flexibly configurable models can be used in medical training and education, as well as in the development and testing of new medical products, thus eliminating the need for the cadavers or animal models mainly used to date. Not only do the 3D-printed models give users a 3D view, they also offer a realistic functionality in simulations.

“Very recently, we have increasingly been seeing new companies launching 3D printing innovations for the medical sector. That’s why this year we want to give creative start-ups in particular a platform in the forum. They will focus on current developments in prosthetics, orthotics and epitheses. Attention is turning more and more to the manufacture of patient-specific products directly at the point of care,” explains Dr Özlem Weiss. The CEO of life-sciences consultancy firm Expertants joins Ralf Schumacher from Swiss firm Medartis AG to lead the forum.

Custom crown couplings, bespoke shoe lasts and the POC

In his lecture, Prof. Dr Ute Schäfer of the University Clinic of Graz takes a look at the challenges and opportunities involved in printing implants at the point of care (POC), such as the dental clinic itself. Prof. Dr Mario Kern from EAP® Abutments introduces new ways to manufacture bespoke connecting elements between the tooth crown and the tooth implant (abutments) using 3D printing. How additive manufacturing can optimise the bespoke production of orthopaedic shoes – and especially how it can streamline the manufacture of shoe lasts – is explained by Dr Johannes Lohn of Protiq. Andreas Velten of the Velten & Hering Institute of Anaplastology examines the technical possibilities offered by the 3D printing of epitheses for aesthetic corrections of the face and limbs, as well as the legal conditions associated with this.

The lecture given by Avi Cohen of US firm Nano Dimension centres on what the combination of micromanufacturing and 3D printing can do for medicine in terms of possible new applications.

High-calibre specialist programme with innovations from AM application and research

The Rapid.Tech 3D specialist conference will offer further insight into current developments in additive technology, with keynote speeches from Airbus Helicopter, Autodesk, nFrontier, Porsche, Procter & Gamble, Sauber and Toolcraft. The issues will be discussed in greater depth on all three days of the conference in the various trade forums. In addition to Aviation, there will be forums on AM in Construction Engineering & Architecture; Automotive & Mobility; Design; Medical, Dental & Orthopaedic Technology; Software & Processes; Tool, Model and Mould Making, and News from AM. The latest developments in and prospects for AM research and training will be considered in the 3D Printing & Education and AM Science forums. This strand of the programme will include a presentation from the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft on current results and projects in the field of additive manufacturing.
Detailed information on the keynote speeches and the content of the individual trade forums can be found in the overview of the programme for the Rapid.Tech 3D specialist conference at the following link:

Big-name exhibitors have already booked their places

The Rapid.Tech 3D exhibition also offers an insight into the latest developments and applications in additive manufacturing. Companies and research institutions such as alphacam, Farsoon Europe, FIT, Fraunhofer, Intamsys, Kaut-Bullinger, Nano Dimension, Oechsler, Stratasys and Trumpf have already booked their stands in Erfurt. There is still time to book exhibition space. More detailed information is available from the following link:

Book tickets conveniently online

The Rapid.Tech 3D ticket shop is already open. Tickets to attend the conference on one, two or three days can be booked online at your convenience at: