Otolaryngologists in all regions and all skill levels deserve equitable access to physical, biomimetic, preclinical simulators to learn and practice surgical skills before operating on patients.
While human cadaveric tissue is the gold standard for rehearsal, it can be challenging for some training programs and clinicians to procure, store, and safely use.
Similarly, high fidelity, synthetic composite tissue simulators can be inaccessible and expensive to procure. Virtual simulators can be too costly to purchase and maintain despite the value of impressive graphics and customizable experiences.
The advent of consumer-grade 3D printers, downloadable anatomic models, and widespread commercial 3D printable materials are enabling more surgeons and innovators--like me--to make affordable, quality surgical simulators.
However, the difficult technical hurdle remains to identify or create biomimetic soft polymer filaments that will reliably 3D print into multi-material composite tissue simulators.
In the past 3 years, I tested several categories of soft filaments without finding a successful candidate for multi-material extrusion on single extruder setups.
So in 2024, I'm gearing up to create novel blends of biodegradable, biomimetic, soft, 3D printable filaments that can reliably produce next-generation composite surgical simulators.
AugmENT's 3D printed temporal bones will then feature normal and pathologic anatomy, starting with cholesteatoma.
This innovation will be made possible through acquisition of a filament-making system, thermoplastic pellets, and fillers with plenty of R&D to test compounding, extrusion, 3D printing, and validation of custom biomimetic filaments.
As always, in giving full consideration to all stakeholders (people, planet, and purpose), this same equipment will enable AugmENT to recycle 3D printing materials for an impactful circular economy.
You can make a difference and support this bold endeavor by (a) making a purchase at augment.surgery, (b) sharing this post, and (c) encouraging impact investors, foundations, and other potential partners to connect with me via LinkedIn or email at email@example.com
Together, let's make surgical education more safe, realistic, and accessible to benefit otolaryngologists and patients everywhere.