Observant readers might have noticed the frequency with which Chinese doctors are applying 3D printed medical applications on complicated cases. Thanks to surgical models to help doctors prepare for unusual surgeries, and 3D printed implants, 3D printing is definitely gaining a reputation as a reliable medical tool in China.

And while most of those cases are rare, one-off events, it looks like 3D printing might become a more standardized part of medical practice in the future. For the reputable Fuwai cardiovascular hospital in Beijing has just announced a collaboration with Materialise to open a medical 3D printing center at the hospital.  

Materialise, of course, is an outstanding Belgian provider of high end 3D printed solutions. They can be frequently found at the forefront of 3D printed innovations, so it’s no surprise that Fuwai turned to them for this centre. Fuwai Hospital, meanwhile, is no little fish either, as it’s known as the largest and best Grade III Class A cardiovascular hospital in China. With more than 967 beds and state of the art technology, it’s the place to go for all patients with cardiovascular problems.

Representatives of these two institutions signed an agreement yesterday to develop a multidisciplinary 3D printing center within the hospital itself, thus aiming to make 3D printing an integrated part of high end medical practice. The agreement itself was signed during a diplomatic mission by Belgian officials, the King, and industry representatives.

Peter Leys, who signed to agreement on behalf of Materialise, explained that the centre will primarily focus on developing surgical heart models. ‘Materialise highly anticipates working closely together with Fuwai Hospital, and Chinese regulatory authorities, to enable doctors and patients to benefit from 3D Printed heart models,’ he said. ‘Around the world, these heart models have already proven invaluable for the preparation of complex interventions, thereby improving outcomes and in many cases, saving lives. This is especially true for young babies born with heart defects due to the complexity that comes with treating patients so young and delicate.’

The upcoming facility is expected to go into operation at the end of 2015, and has grown out of earlier collaborations on medical models. Surgeons from Fuwai were very impressed with earlier projects by Materialise, so hopes are high for this new center. ‘Materialise has helped us navigate opportunities and achieve medical 3-D printing goals in a safe, economical and sustainable way,’ says Hu Shenshou, the head of Fuwai Hospital.

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