3D Printing is Being Used to Treat Children With Severe Burns

3D printing is making more and more progress in the medical field with applications in bioprinting, 3D printed prostheses, digitization of dentistry and much more. Adding to the advances of additive manufacturing in medicine is a recent collaboration between Italy and France. It is a pilot project carried out by the Romans Ferrari pediatric rehabilitation center in Lyon in collaboration with 3DZ. 3DZ is a 3D printer distribution company based in Castelfranco Veneto (TV), with several offices around the world and significant experience in the field. In this case, 3D printing has been used to produce facial masks that can help treat children with facial burns.

The Romans Ferrari Center in Lyon, a pediatric rehabilitation facility that has treated severely burned children for many years, involved students from the Ecole Centrale de Lyon and approached 3DZ’s French branch. Ultimately, the goal was to find a less painful alternative method of making the orthoses that are used to treat burns on the faces of children and others. Namely, to make the facial orthosis (i.e., a plate that is placed on the face) using conventional methods, an impression of the face must be taken, which is then used to make a mask that is a perfect and pliable replica of the child’s face. In this method, the face is modeled with plaster strips that are applied directly to the skin, which is painful and disturbing, especially for the skin and sensitivity of children.

3D printing burn treatment

Photo Credits: 3DZ

The collaboration between 3DZ and Romans Ferrari therefore made it possible to rethink this procedure and make it more child-friendly and generally less invasive and more efficient. In essence, the companies replaced the plaster cast with a 3D scan of the patient’s face. Thanks to the 3D scanner, they were able to obtain a perfect reproduction of the patient’s face in all its details without coming into contact with his skin.

The prosthesis was then manufactured using a 3D printer based on the scan, making it non-invasive and more precise at the same time. With this scanner, the operator creates a 3D scan of the child’s face, a highly accurate three-dimensional photo; the scanned file was then processed with Geomagic Freeform software to create the correct shape of the mask. The mask was then printed using Formlabs’ Fuse 1 3D printer. The result was a precise, accurate and customized reproduction of the patient’s face. Silicone devices are placed inside the facial orthosis. These massage the burned area and allow for better healing and scarring.

facial scanner

Face scanner (photo credits: Artec3D)

More Efficient Burn Treatment Thanks to 3D Printing

The pilot project was completed in early 2022 with excellent results, so much so that the collaboration between 3DZ and Romans Ferrari was honored at the Global Industrie trade show, France’s most important event for the industrial sector. The French medical center has therefore decided to use 3D-printed masks instead of the old plaster cast method. “For several years, we have dreamed of making the mold for treatment without the patient having to come into direct contact with the burned skin,” says Christophe Debat, director of the Centre Romans Ferrari. “To see what we can cure and invent thanks to the complete 3D production chain we have developed is simply magical. The application developed by Romans Ferrari is a human project that takes care of the future health of these children,” adds Patrick Ferraris, director of 3DZ France.

The future development of the project lies in its adaptation to telemedicine. The goal is to find and shape the ideal forms in order to document them scientifically and, in the long term, to be able to treat larger body parts.

*Cover Photo Credits: 3DZ



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