Latest VERTEX Incorporated News
Jul 31, 2021
Armor Bionics / Shapeways Armor Bionics’, Shapeways’ 3DP deal to transform surgical pre-planning Shapeways to provide 3D printed advanced medical models to be used for pre-planning surgeries; expected to be delivered within 24 hours. Shapeways, a leading global digital manufacturing platform driven by proprietary software, has entered into an agreement to become the exclusive 3D printing manufacturer for Armor Bionics , a specialist in image segmentation and 3D medical modeling. Under the terms of the agreement, Shapeways will provide Armor Bionics with certain complex 3D printer medical models that are expected to transform procedures used for pre-planning surgeries. The personalized models are developed from patient CT scans and MRIs, allowing for diagnosis, treatment, and unparalleled surgical planning and life-saving procedures. Advantages include significantly reduced time spent in the operating room, shorter recovery times for patients, and greater ability of surgeons to anticipate potential complications during a surgery. On April 28, 2021, Shapeways entered into a definitive agreement with Galileo Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company, related to a proposed business combination between Galileo and Shapeways. Upon the closing of the transaction, the combined company will be named Shapeways Holdings Inc. and is expected to remain listed on the NYSE under the new ticker symbols “SHPW” and “SHPW.WS.” Educating patients and empowering surgeons With a core strength in industrial design and 3D modeling, Armor Bionics specializes in developing medical models and offering biotechnology solutions—with the ultimate goal to make its technology available to any hospital in the world, whether at a world-class facility or a small clinic in a developing country. Bruno Demuro, co-founder and CEO of Armor Bionics, is amplifying his company’s talents in the area of converting 2D scans to a 3D design while relying on Shapeways for their manufacturing expertise and global distribution. “When we received the first model from Shapeways, it was absolutely perfect,” Demuro says. “Always being very thorough, means we measured the size of every bone to find out how accurate the first 3D printed model was. In comparison to the 3D design we had sent, it was flawless, which is essential since there is no room for error in the procedures for which the technique is used.” Surgical pre-planning helps doctors to prevent complications The critical nature of using 3D printed medical models becomes even more apparent when surgeons are preparing for delicate procedures like spinal surgery. Surgeons can make smaller incisions due to planning on physical models which leads to reduced bleeding and quicker recovery times. Viewing a physical 3D model of a spine, heart, or other internal organ allows doctors to plan, adjust, and practice the surgery beforehand which leads to shorter surgeries. Dr. Christian Kreutzer, Chief of Congenital Heart Surgery at Hospital Universitario Austral and former fellow of Children's Hospital, Boston and Harvard Medical School, has worked with Armor Bionics to replicate an eight-month-old patient’s heart. While viewing the medical model, he adapted the planned surgery which helped reduce recovery time by half. “Armor Bionics and Shapeways lets me focus on what I do best, saving children and improving their lives through surgeries. Their platform easily converts scans into physical 3D models that are to scale and guide our approach in surgical pre-planning,” says Dr. Kreutzer. “Utilizing this technology reduces time in surgery, leads to quicker recovery times, and produces more positive surgical outcomes overall.” Shapeways provides global access Armor Bionics realized a manufacturing partnership with Shapeways would also yield the chance to reach many geographical locations easily. Shapeways’ facilities in the US and Europe help surgeons get the medical models quickly. “One of the greatest barriers in expanding our work with even more surgical teams was the lack of reliable facilities for 3D printing models once they were sent from Uruguay, where Armor Bionics is headquartered,” Demuro continues. “By partnering with Shapeways, surgeons can now receive 3D models anywhere, with extremely fast delivery and high model accuracy.” Armor Bionics’ services transforms medical scans into 3D printed physical models and pairs with Shapeways capabilities for an innovative solution. “Working hand-in-hand with Armor Bionics Shapeways developed a way to perform the crucial and difficult task of converting digital scans into physical form factors that can be held, manipulated, and even used for hands-on practicing of procedures,” says Miko Levy, chief revenue officer at Shapeways. “This revolutionary service offering enables surgeons and hospitals to get physical models fast, makes surgeries more efficient, and can assist surgeons in numerous ways to help achieve the best outcome for their patients.” The medical models are already being used by surgeons around the world, and Armor Bionics plans to pursue further expansion in the US and Europe. Artificial lung assist devices have been called life-savers for people who suffer respiratory failure. But such devices carry potential risks, including blood clots, bleeding, and sepsis. The answer for improving a device’s function while reducing side effects may lie in engineering it so that it more closely mimics the human lung. Draper has done just that, making advances in an artificial lung technology called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). During ECMO, blood is drawn from the patient’s vascular system and circulated outside the body by a mechanical pump through an oxygenator and heat exchanger. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is removed and oxygen-saturated blood is returned to the body. © Draper | https://www.draper.com/ Draper has developed an artificial lung technology with a $4.9M U.S. Army grant. In spite of decades of advances, ECMO still suffers from limitations. The device can become clogged with blood clots, which diminishes the membrane’s ability to transfer oxygen and CO2. ECMO can experience inconsistent blood flow and pressure across the device, and require high levels of anticoagulant, which can cause bleeding problems. Experts agree that reducing complications will improve outcomes for ECMO patients. To develop its artificial lung technology, Draper tapped into biomimetics, an interdisciplinary field in which principles from engineering, chemistry, and biology are applied to the synthesis of materials, synthetic systems, and machines that have functions that mimic biological processes. Draper fabricated silicone layers, patterned with either blood channel or gas channel networks, and bonded them together with an intervening thin gas transfer membrane. The multiple sandwich structures were stacked into a three-dimensional network joined by biomimetic blood distribution manifolds to produce a fully 3D, physiologically inspired blood circuit. © Draper | https://www.draper.com/ The American Society for Artificial Internal Organs recently recognized Draper’s microfluidic blood oxygenator research by naming it the Top Pulmonary Abstract of 2021. Draper researchers tested the multilayer, microfluidic blood oxygenator at blood flow rates approaching clinically relevant levels. They found that a device coated with anticoagulant significantly decreased thrombus accumulation, and helped to stabilize blood pressure, compared to a device without the coating. In an upcoming paper, Draper reports their oxygenator operated at blood flow rates up to 400 milliliters per minute, the highest ever achieved in a complex microfluidic device. Overall, Draper’s device maintained critical dimensions such as gas transfer membrane thickness and blood channel geometries, and controlled levels of fluid shear within narrow ranges throughout the cartridge. These design features allowed the device to improve upon a nagging performance issue with ECMO, where contact of blood proteins with artificial surfaces, such as the membrane of the oxygenator or tubing, can cause blood clotting. Engineer Joe Santos helped design the device, called BLOx. “There is a critical need for low prime-volume, lower flow respiratory support devices. There is also an urgent requirement for simpler, safer, and more portable ECMO technologies for treatment of injuries in remote locations, such as battlefields and natural disaster sites. Draper’s technology can transform the way ECMO is being done today,” Santos says. Jeff Borenstein has been working on biomimetic microfluidic oxygenators for more than a decade at Draper. “We believe microfluidic oxygenators have emerged as a potential promising avenue for improving the efficiency and safety of ECMO. Despite wide use, ECMO is limited in its accessibility because it is extremely complex and difficult to administer. We think our approach is simpler and safer, and will lead to wider use,” Borenstein says. The American Society for Artificial Internal Organs recently recognized the microfluidic blood oxygenator research by naming it the Top Pulmonary Abstract of 2021. This work was funded by the U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity and supported by the U.S. Army through the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program under award number W81XWH1910518. Draper’s four-year, $4.9 million award is scheduled to run through July 2022. Opinions, interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author, and are not necessarily endorsed by the U.S. Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity. Each fingertip has more than 3,000 touch receptors, which largely respond to pressure. Humans rely heavily on sensation in their fingertips when manipulating an object. The lack of this sensation presents a unique challenge for individuals with upper limb amputations. While there are several high-tech, dexterous prosthetics available today - they all lack the sensation of "touch." The absence of this sensory feedback results in objects inadvertently being dropped or crushed by a prosthetic hand. To enable a more natural feeling prosthetic hand interface, researchers from Florida Atlantic University's College of Engineering and Computer Science and collaborators are the first to incorporate stretchable tactile sensors using liquid metal on the fingertips of a prosthetic hand. Encapsulated within silicone-based elastomers, this technology provides key advantages over traditional sensors, including high conductivity, compliance, flexibility, and stretchability. This hierarchical multi-finger tactile sensation integration could provide a higher level of intelligence for artificial hands. For the study, published in the journal Sensors, researchers used individual fingertips on the prosthesis to distinguish between different speeds of a sliding motion along different textured surfaces. The four different textures had one variable parameter: the distance between the ridges. To detect the textures and speeds, researchers trained four machine learning algorithms. For each of the ten surfaces, 20 trials were collected to test the ability of the machine learning algorithms to distinguish between the ten different complex surfaces comprised of randomly generated permutations of four different textures. Results showed that the integration of tactile information from liquid metal sensors on four prosthetic hand fingertips simultaneously distinguished between complex, multi-textured surfaces - demonstrating a new form of hierarchical intelligence. The machine learning algorithms were able to distinguish between all the speeds with each finger with high accuracy. This new technology could improve the control of prosthetic hands and provide haptic feedback, more commonly known as the experience of touch, for amputees to reconnect a previously severed sense of touch. "Significant research has been done on tactile sensors for artificial hands, but there is still a need for advances in lightweight, low-cost, robust multimodal tactile sensors," says Erik Engeberg, Ph.D., senior author, an associate professor in the Department of Ocean and Mechanical Engineering and a member of the FAU Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute and the FAU Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering (I-SENSE), who conducted the study with first author and Ph.D. student Moaed A. Abd. "The tactile information from all the individual fingertips in our study provided the foundation for a higher hand-level of perception enabling the distinction between ten complex, multi-textured surfaces that would not have been possible using purely local information from an individual fingertip. We believe that these tactile details could be useful in the future to afford a more realistic experience for prosthetic hand users through an advanced haptic display, which could enrich the amputee-prosthesis interface and prevent amputees from abandoning their prosthetic hand." Researchers compared four different machine learning algorithms for their successful classification capabilities: K-nearest neighbor (KNN), support vector machine (SVM), random forest (RF), and neural network (NN). The time-frequency features of the liquid metal sensors were extracted to train and test the machine learning algorithms. The NN generally performed the best at the speed and texture detection with a single finger and had a 99.2% accuracy to distinguish between ten different multi-textured surfaces using four liquid metal sensors from four fingers simultaneously. "The loss of an upper limb can be a daunting challenge for an individual who is trying to seamlessly engage in regular activities," says Stella Batalama, Ph.D., dean, College of Engineering and Computer Science. "Although advances in prosthetic limbs have been beneficial and allow amputees to better perform their daily duties, they do not provide them with sensory information such as touch. They also don't enable them to control the prosthetic limb naturally with their minds. With this latest technology from our research team, we are one step closer to providing people all over the world with a more natural prosthetic device that can 'feel' and respond to its environment." Study co-authors are Rudy Paul, FAU Department of Ocean and Mechanical Engineering; Aparna Aravelli, Ph.D.; Ou Bai, Ph.D.; and Leonel Lagos, Ph.D., PMP, all with Florida International University; and Maohua Lin, Ph.D., FAU Department of Ocean and Mechanical Engineering. The research was supported by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Aging of the NIH, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and pilot grants from the FAU Stiles-Nicholson Brain Institute and FAU I-SENSE. VELO3D Inc. , a leader in advanced additive manufacturing (AM) for high-value metal parts, announced that Vertex Manufacturing , a Cincinnati-based business providing CNC machining and manufacturing services from development through production, has selected VELO3D to help meet growing demand for 3D-printed impossible metal parts. Vertex was born out of the desire of AM pioneers Greg Morris, Steve Rengers, and Tim Warden, previously of Morris Technologies Inc. (MTI), to leverage their advanced manufacturing and technology backgrounds to help companies solve some of their most difficult problems. Vertex is AS9100, ISO13485 and ITAR registered and certified. At MTI, Morris and company were best known for their work with GE Aviation’s 3-D printed LEAP Engine fuel nozzle used in commercial aviation. In an industry with a reputation for having exacting standards for the safety and quality of manufactured parts, the LEAP Engine fuel nozzle was one of the first metal AM parts to be certified for flight by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Morris is also recognized for his early expertise in industrial metals such as titanium and for integrating AM with traditional manufacturing floor systems. MTI was acquired by GE Aviation in 2012. “With unique technology providing the capability to create production parts that would be impractical or impossible using other methods, our new additive manufacturing solution from VELO3D means customers will have even more freedom to design and engineer some of the most complex geometries imaginable,” says Greg Morris, co-founder and CEO, Vertex Manufacturing. “This is the essence of why Steve, Tim, and I started Vertex Manufacturing – to help customers leverage the most advanced manufacturing technologies and push the boundaries of what is possible.” Where Morris Technologies primarily focused on prototyping use cases, Vertex was created with a mission to help customers who need advanced manufacturing solutions for both development and production programs. They offer a range of services including advanced multi-axis CNC machining, additive manufacturing, rapid castings, and final inspection of manufactured parts. “At VELO3D we help innovators like Vertex accelerate the future of manufacturing, not just for their customers, but to benefit all of humanity,” says Benny Buller, founder and CEO, VELO3D. “This new partnership speaks to the real and transformational capabilities VELO3D is bringing to metal additive manufacturing.” Vertex will take delivery of its first full-stack VELO3D Sapphire solution this month, which will be set up to print metal parts in Inconel 718 (PDF), a nickel-based superalloy known for its superb tensile strength when subjected to extreme pressure and heat. It will be installed alongside other advanced manufacturing systems such as a top-of-the-line Makino a61nx CNC machining center. Vertex said it plans to add additional VELO3D solutions in the future based on feedback from existing customers who value the quality, efficiency, and productivity benefits. “As we move forward, we want to leverage the knowledge and experience our team has in bringing products to market or taking them to production to bring a stronger focus on pursuing production programs, whether it’s traditional manufacturing, advanced metal AM, or a combination of both,” Morris says. In March, VELO3D announced plans to merge with JAWS Spitfire Acquisition Corp. and become a public company. s41551-021-00763-4 This soft, stretchy skin patch uses ultrasound to monitor blood flow to organs like the heart and brain. Engineers at the University of California San Diego developed a soft and stretchy ultrasound patch that can be worn on the skin to monitor blood flow through major arteries and veins deep inside a person's body. Knowing how fast and how much blood flows through a patient's blood vessels is important because it can help clinicians diagnose various cardiovascular conditions, including blood clots; heart valve problems; poor circulation in the limbs; or blockages in the arteries that could lead to strokes or heart attacks. The new ultrasound patch developed at UC San Diego can continuously monitor blood flow – as well as blood pressure and heart function – in real time. Wearing such a device could make it easier to identify cardiovascular problems early on. A team led by Sheng Xu, a professor of nanoengineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, reported the patch in a paper published July 16 in Nature Biomedical Engineering. The patch can be worn on the neck or chest. What's special about the patch is that it can sense and measure cardiovascular signals as deep as 14cm inside the body in a non-invasive manner. And it can do so with high accuracy. "This type of wearable device can give you a more comprehensive, more accurate picture of what's going on in deep tissues and critical organs like the heart and the brain, all from the surface of the skin," Xu says. "Sensing signals at such depths is extremely challenging for wearable electronics. Yet, this is where the body's most critical signals and the central organs are buried," says Chonghe Wang, a former nanoengineering graduate student in Xu's lab and co-first author of the study. "We engineered a wearable device that can penetrate such deep tissue depths and sense those vital signals far beneath the skin. This technology can provide new insights for the field of healthcare." Another innovative feature of the patch is that the ultrasound beam can be tilted at different angles and steered to areas in the body that are not directly underneath the patch. This is a first in the field of wearables, explained Xu, because existing wearable sensors typically only monitor areas right below them. "If you want to sense signals at a different position, you have to move the sensor to that location. With this patch, we can probe areas that are wider than the device's footprint. This can open up a lot of opportunities." © Nature Biomedical Engineering How it works The patch is made up of a thin sheet of flexible, stretchable polymer that adheres to the skin. Embedded on the patch is an array of millimeter-sized ultrasound transducers. Each is individually controlled by a computer--this type of array is known as an ultrasound phased array. It is a key part of the technology because it gives the patch the ability to go deeper and wider. The phased array offers two main modes of operation. In one mode, all the transducers can be synchronized to transmit ultrasound waves together, which produces a high-intensity ultrasound beam that focuses on one spot as deep as 14cm in the body. In the other mode, the transducers can be programmed to transmit out of sync, which produces ultrasound beams that can be steered to different angles. "With the phased array technology, we can manipulate the ultrasound beam in the way that we want," says Muyang Lin, a nanoengineering Ph.D. student at UC San Diego who is also a co-first author of the study. "This gives our device multiple capabilities: monitoring central organs as well as blood flow, with high resolution. This would not be possible using just one transducer." The phased array consists of a 12 by 12 grid of ultrasound transducers. When electricity flows through the transducers, they vibrate and emit ultrasound waves that travel through the skin and deep into the body. When the ultrasound waves penetrate through a major blood vessel, they encounter movement from red blood cells flowing inside. This movement changes or shifts how the ultrasound waves echo back to the patch – an effect known as Doppler frequency shift. This shift in the reflected signals gets picked up by the patch and is used to create a visual recording of the blood flow. This same mechanism can also be used to create moving images of the heart's walls. A potential game changer in the clinic For many people, blood flow is not something that is measured during a regular visit to the physician. It is usually assessed after a patient shows some signs of cardiovascular problems, or if a patient is at high risk. The standard blood flow exam itself can be time consuming and labor intensive. A trained technician presses a handheld ultrasound probe against a patient's skin and moves it from one area to another until it's directly above a major blood vessel. This may sound straightforward, but results can vary between tests and technicians. Since the patch is simple to use, it could solve these problems, says Sai Zhou, a materials science and engineering Ph.D. student at UC San Diego and co-author of the study. "Just stick it on the skin, then read the signals. It's not operator dependent, and it poses no extra work or burden to the technicians, clinicians or patients," he said. "In the future, patients could wear something like this to do point of care or continuous at-home monitoring." In tests, the patch performed as well as a commercial ultrasound probe used in the clinic. It accurately recorded blood flow in major blood vessels such as the carotid artery, which is an artery in the neck that supplies blood to the brain. Having the ability to monitor changes in this flow could, for example, help identify if a person is at risk for stroke well before the onset of symptoms. The researchers point out that the patch still has a long way to go before it is ready for the clinic. Currently, it needs to be connected to a power source and benchtop machine in order to work. Xu's team is working on integrating all the electronics on the patch to make it wireless. Paper: "Continuous monitoring of deep-tissue haemodynamics with stretchable ultrasonic phased arrays." Co-authors include Baiyan Qi*, Zhuorui Zhang*, Mitsutoshi Makihata, Boyu Liu, Yi-hsi Huang, Hongjie Hu, Yue Gu, Yimu Chen, Yusheng Lei, Shu Chien and Erik Kistler, UC San Diego; Taeyoon Lee, Yonsei University and Korea Institute of Science and Technology; and Kyung-In Jang, Daegu Gyeonbuk Institute of Science and Technology, Republic of Korea. *These authors contributed equally This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant 1R21EB027303-01A1) and the Center for Wearable Sensors at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.