Direct Dimensions has long been interested in applying our 3D laser scanning technology to aid in the field of “anaplastology,” the medical field of making cosmetic prosthesis which improve the quality of life for those who need them. We have worked extensively with some of the profession's most talented practitioners, including a long-standing partnership with the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Department of “Art as Applied to Medicine.”
Some previous projects have included working with the team at Hopkins to help rebuild the nose of U.S. Army Senior Airman Michael Fletcher and working on many prosthetic ear projects. We consider the creation of prosthetics some of the most rewarding work we are privileged to do so we were very honored when Dr. Robert A. Erb, Ph.D, noted anaplastologist and former president of the American Anaplastology Association (AAA) contacted us to assist on a particularly challenging project.
Dr. Erb had a patient who had lost a hand in a tragic accident. The goal was to create a new life-like hand including the fine details of skin texture. The doctor was also interested in how 3D laser scanning might help with his methods. Through a recommendation from a colleague he found that Direct Dimensions and our Digital Modeling team was excited to take on the project.
DDI’s project manager Harry Abramson has worked on many similar replication projects and he noted the significance of this opportunity. “We were excited because it set a new benchmark for us to represent what could be done in anaplastology and realistic re-creation utilizing 3D scanning technologies. Our usual work generally does not need to be as detailed, but this time it was about creating the most realistic prosthetic possible.”
Dr. Erb came to Direct Dimensions’ lab with a plaster casting he had taken of his patient’s intact hand. We scanned this casting two different ways to ensure the highest quality of data possible: first with a laser line scanner mounted on a Faro Arm and second with a laser line scanner mounted on a motorized precision coordinate measuring machine, or CMM. This particular CMM system was integrated by our own DDI engineers for in-house projects requiring very high resolutions and can even capture fingerprints in 3D.
The resulting data from the scans was incredibly detailed, containing millions of 3D polygons. During the modeling process, utilizing PolyWorks software, the model was also flipped to create a mirror of the plaster casting and a faithful re-creation of the clients lost hand.
The high resolution 3D digital model was then provided to a rapid prototyping service bureau to create a physical hand using an Objet Eden printer - one of the highest resolution 3D printers currently available. The material selected was “Vero Blue,” a rapid prototype material noted for both its strength and its exceptional ability to retain fine detail.
The prototype prosthetic hand which we delivered to Dr. Erb was so lifelike that you could even see pores and hair follicles. Using the prototype hand, Dr. Erb created a finalized prosthetic in silicone with no loss of detail - truly an exceptional achievement, and one aided by the cutting-edge 3D technologies at Direct Dimensions.