A team of researchers from the Georgia Tech Manufacturing Institute (GTMI) and Piedmont Heart Institute was named a winner in the 56th annual R&D 100 Awards — an international competition that recognizes the 100 most exceptional innovations in science and technology from the past year. The 100 winners were revealed Friday, Nov. 16, in Orlando, Florida. The R&D 100 Awards have long been considered the most globally prestigious recognition of invention and innovation.
The GTMI team includes Ben Wang, Eugene C. Gwaltney, Jr. Chair in Manufacturing Systems and professor in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) and executive director of GTMI; Chuck Zhang, Harold E. Smalley Professor in ISyE; and GTMI Research Engineer II Kan Wang. Their collaboration on “3D Printed Patient-Specific Tissue-Mimicking Phantoms for Surgery Planning” won them the honor.
“Congratulations to Chuck, Ben, and the team on winning this prestigious award,” said ISyE School Chair Edwin Romeijn. “Their ground-breaking research in the areas of advanced materials design and multi-material 3D printing will help surgeons better serve their patients. This recognition is very well-deserved.”
This innovative technology integrates the latest developments in advanced materials design and multi-material 3D printing to create patient-specific, soft tissue-like medical phantoms/models that can imitate mechanical behaviors of human tissue/organs. These models can be used for planning of surgeries such as the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure in cardiologic treatment and intervention.
According to Wang, “Patient-specific tissue-mimicking phantoms have a wide range of biomedical applications including validation of computational models and imaging techniques, medical device testing, surgery planning, and medical education and training.”
Although 3D printing technologies have demonstrated promise in fabricating patient-specific phantoms, the current process of 3D printing phantoms is only able to generate a geometrically accurate specimen. This cannot be used for applications where biomechanical accuracy is needed such as pre-surgery testing of implanted medical devices. To answer this challenge, the GTMI and Piedmont Heart Center researchers developed an innovative materials design and manufacturing technology that allows 3D printed phantoms to mimic mechanical strain stiffening behaviors of soft tissues. The process uses multi-material 3D printed meta-materials with micro-structured reinforcement printed in a soft polymeric matrix. The efficacy of this method has been demonstrated in optimum heart valve surgery planning for the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedure.
Zhang said, “With evolving additive manufacturing technologies, it will be possible to fabricate ‘plastic tissues’ with both accurate anatomical and biomechanical properties unique to each patient’s biomechanical and pathological characteristics.”
“This process provides high value for advanced medical device development and surgery planning,” added Kan Wang. Due to the innovative nature of the research work and product, a U.S. patent is pending, and the team also received a 2018 TechConnect Innovation Award.
R&D 100 Awards recipients include established Fortune 500 companies and federally funded research institutions, as well as academic and government labs. Award winners were selected by an independent panel of more than 50 judges representing R&D leaders in a variety of fields. Winners were recognized across five major categories — Analytical/Test, IT/Electrical, Mechanical/Materials, Process/Prototyping, and Software/Services and Other. The full list of winners can be found at www.rd100conference.com.
GTMI brings together industry leaders, government partners and top researchers to collaborate and find solutions for the greatest challenges facing U.S. industry today: creating quality jobs, ensuring global competitiveness, and advancing economic and environmental sustainability. For more information, please go to www.manufacturing.gatech.edu.