What started out as a hobby for a radiation therapist at IU Health has turned into a fully functioning 3D printing laboratory that is helping clinicians and patients. The 3D Innovations Lab at IU Health creates numerous devices to help physicians prepare for procedures, such as radiation therapy and surgery. The lab has gotten so busy, it is relocating from the basement at University Hospital to the nearby 16 Tech Innovation District.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business of Health reporter Kylie Veleta, IU Health 3D Innovations Lab Program Manager Brian Overshiner said the move will help further advance the lab’s mission.
“It’s a good match for the type of work and technology that we use,” said Overshiner. “It will give us a proper space to house our equipment and our team to work out of and…allow us to be more creative there.”
The lab takes ideas from clinicians and helps “bring them to life,” according to Overshiner. Some of the projects include custom 3D devices for radiation therapy. Using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software, the team can create devices that match a patient’s unique anatomy to ensure radiation is delivered with the most accuracy.
The lab can also print surgical models using the patient’s specific anatomy, so surgeons can use the models to prepare for complicated cases before the operation.
“When clinicians have problems, they come to us for solutions. And they [may not] have an engineering background, but they know what they need, and they know what they want something to do,” said Overshiner.
The 3D lab team then goes to work to figure out how it can accomplish what a physician sets-out to do for a patient.
Overshiner says the amenities and technologies available at 16 Tech will support the lab’s efforts.
“It’s filled with all kinds of emerging technology tools, such as lasers, plasma cutters and vacuum formers. A lot of those things we don’t even know how we’ll use yet, but we’ll have access to those things,” said Overshiner.
IU Health says Overshiner purchased for himself a 3D printer about 8 years ago. He learned to use it over the course of a year as a hobby. But when a piece of equipment broke at work, he realized the potential in his job.
Ever since, he’s been growing the lab and finding solutions that can save lives.
The lab has created more than 350 radiation therapy devices and about 50 surgical models. With the move to 16 Tech, Overshiner says the lab will also be growing the team significantly.