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Dear Sir,
 
I  am a research student in the Rapid Prototyping Centre  in
the   Department  of  Industrial  Studies,   University   of
Liverpool.   My aim is to apply rapid prototyping technology
to  the field of medicine, and I therefore need to ascertain
which applications this technology is applicable to.  I give
below  a  short  description  of  this  technology  and  its
application in medicine, and I would be most obliged if  you
would  let  me  have your opinions about its other  possible
applications in your field.
 
Rapid prototyping is a technology that emerged in the fields
of  aerospace and automobile industry.  It is based  on  the
layer-by-layer  manufacturing principles.  In  industry  the
design  is  usually a CAD drawing (Using computers  to  draw
objects)  with  data  stored in the computer.   Software  is
developed  for  representing these models  as  a  triangular
mesh.   Rapid prototyping systems take this triangular  mesh
as  input and then slice it into hundreds of parallel  cross
sections.   Each cross section is then produced by  using  a
laser  beam  to  solidify  photopolymer.   With  each  layer
solidified  and attached to the previous layer, a  3D  model
can be formed.  This method allows the rapid manufacture  of
models  with extremely complex shapes and detailed  internal
structures.
 
Some application work using this technology has already been
carried  out  in the medical field.  Normally a  patient  is
scanned by a CT or MRI modality to obtain a 3D data set from
which  the  volume  of interest is extracted.   The  3D  CAD
representation of this interest volume is then  derived  and
used as the input into RP systems.  RP models can be used to
facilitate  reconstruction  of bone  deformities,  for  pre-
surgical planning or for operation simulation.  Implants and
prostheses can also be designed and made using these  models
to provide the exact sizes and orientation before surgery.
 
In   dental  surgery  another  example  is  the  design  and
production of surgical tools.  A patient's jaw model can  be
produced  and  used  for the design  and  fabrication  of  a
drilling template.  Because of the accuracy of this model, a
template  can  be made to exactly fit the patient's  jawline
and  to  guide  the drill's orientation and  positions  when
performing surgery.  This type of application cuts down  the
time  spent in surgery and leads to faster recovery  by  the
patient.
 
Presently,  I  am considering the design and fabrication  of
various  individual prostheses and implants  by  using  this
technology.   Maybe an artificial joint or  limb  which  can
meet  the individual's mobility needs and minimise the  loss
of  energy.  I know there must be some experienced people in
your department who have much broader views on these kind of
applications  and insight into this field.  Of course,  your
ideas  need  not be limited to this.  I need to  collect  as
many  promising  applications as possible and  identify  the
limitations and applicability of this technology in order to
obtain  my Ph.D. degree.  If you are not familiar with  this
area,  I  would be obliged if you pass this letter on  to  a
colleague who may assist me.  I would like to thank you  for
your  time  and  consideration, and any idea  or  experience
would be most useful.
 
                         Sincerely,
 
 
 
                         T.J. Huang.
                         Rapid Prototyping Centre,
                         Email: [log in to unmask]
 
 
 
                         Reply Form
 
Name:                         Position:
Institution:
Address:
Tel:                Fax:                Email:
 
Comments:
 
1.  Do  you  see  any  applicability  of  Rapid  Prototyping
technology in your field?
 
          _____ Yes, please go to question 2.
          _____ No, please go to question 3.
 
2. Would you mind specifying more details about the possible
applications of this technology in your field.
 
 
 
 
 
3.  What  do  you  think  that would be  the  difficulty  of
applying this technology to your field?
 
          _____ This technology is limited in some aspects.
          _____ This is not a technology appropriate to your
                field.
          _____ Others. Please specify.
 
 
 
 
4.  If you are not able to help, would you mind listing  the
names of persons that are able to help.  Thank you.
 
     A.   Name
          Address
          Tel:                Fax:                Email:
 
     B.   Name
          Address
          Tel:                Fax:                Email:
 
 
 
 
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+  T.J. Huang,                Email: [log in to unmask]  +
*                                                             *
+  Rapid Prototyping Centre,                                  +
*  Department of Industrial Studies,                          *
+  The University of Liverpool,                               +
*  P.O. Box 147,                                              *
+  Liverpool, L69 3BX                                         +
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