Evaluation of direct and indirect additive manufacture of maxillofacial prostheses

Authors: Dominic Eggbeer, Richard Bibb, Peter Evans, Lu Ji, Published: 2012 Area of Research: Surgical & Prosthetic Design Citation: Eggbeer D, Bibb R, Evans P, Ji L (2012). Evaluation of direct and indirect additive manufacture of maxillofacial prostheses. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H, Journal of Engineering in Medicine. 226(9): 718 - 728.


The efficacy of computer-aided technologies in the design and manufacture of maxillofacial prostheses has not been fully proven. This paper presents research into the evaluation of direct and indirect additive manufacture of a maxillofacial prosthesis against conventional laboratory-based techniques. An implant/magnet-retained nasal prosthesis case from a UK maxillofacial unit was selected as a case study. A benchmark prosthesis was fabricated using conventional laboratory-based techniques for comparison against additive manufactured prostheses. For the computer-aided workflow, photogrammetry, computer-aided design and additive manufacture (AM) methods were evaluated in direct prosthesis body fabrication and indirect production using an additively manufactured mould. Qualitative analysis of position, shape, colour and edge quality was undertaken. Mechanical testing to ISO standards was also used to compare the silicone rubber used in the conventional prosthesis with the AM material. Critical evaluation has shown that utilising a computer-aided workflow can produce a prosthesis body that is comparable to that produced using existing best practice. Technical limitations currently prevent the direct fabrication method demonstrated in this paper from being clinically viable. This research helps prosthesis providers understand the application of a computer-aided approach and guides technology developers and researchers to address the limitations identified.

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