Digital design and manufacturing facility to transform patient care

8 February 2023

With the support of Kingston Hospital Charity, construction is now underway to create a new digital clinical design and manufacturing facility within Princess Alexandra Wing.

Completion of this new facility in March will ensure Kingston Hospital is one of only a small number in the country to provide onsite digital customised anatomical models and medical devices, using 3D biomedical design and printing in a bespoke facility.

Once operational, patients will receive more efficient care, with better outcomes, underpinned by a custom-built technology system. For example, a child who requires a replacement hearing aid may currently wait months for a new one, which has a significant impact on psychological wellbeing, educational progress, and social interactions. The new service will be able to manufacture a replacement hearing aid ear-mould using an impression that has been virtually stored in less than 24 hours and can be sent by post.

A patient requiring orthodontic retainers to hold the final positions of teeth after ‘train track’ braces are removed, currently waits one to two weeks. Using this new technology, patients will receive their retainer the same day ensuring they experience no discomfort when first using it. They will also need to attend only one appointment, instead of returning for a second.

This facility will also introduce three-dimensional virtual surgical planning for patients with complex facial deformities. For patients with complex broken bones or fractures that require surgery, the new facility will enable three-dimensional printed custom models to be made to enable the surgeon to plan the best approach and orientation of any surgical fixation screws.

Dr Chris Donaldson who is leading this project said:

“This new facility brings 3D technology to a healthcare setting, as these techniques will become essential tools in the NHS of the future. In time we hope to be able to print in medical grade titanium and ultimately to print bio-scaffolds for the construction of replacement body-parts. It is fantastic that Kingston Hospital Charity has recognised its potential and has agreed to fund the development of this digital clinical design and manufacturing facility.” 

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