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Interview: Inspira 3D shares their disruptive ideas for Medical 3D Printing in India

The applications and benefits of Medical 3D Printing are well known and have been proved in many isolated case studies and stories across the world. However, apart from some rare instances, Medical 3D Printing has not made much headway in the  Indian healthcare industry. However recently due to the efforts of some medical centres and other allied stakeholders, Medical 3D Printing is surely and slowly gaining traction.

One such example is that of Inspira 3D. Inspira 3D is a collaboration between NM Medical, a leading Pathology and Radiology diagnostic services provider with centres across Mumbai, Pune, and Bengaluru and Anatomiz3D, an existing 3D printing company. The applications and benefits of Medical 3D Printing are well known and have been proved in many isolated case studies and stories across the world. However, apart from some rare instances, Medical 3D Printing has not made much headway in the  Indian healthcare industry. However recently due to the efforts of some medical centres and other allied stakeholders, Medical 3D Printing is surely and slowly gaining traction. One such example is that of Inspira 3D. Inspira 3D is a collaboration between NM Medical, a leading Pathology and Radiology diagnostic services provider with centres across Mumbai, Pune, and Bengaluru and Anatomiz3D, an existing 3D printing company.

Our founder, Aditya Chandavarkar had the opportunity interact with Dr Nilesh Shah and Mr Rahil Shah to get more insight into the plan at Inspira 3D. Dr Nilesh Shah, MD is the Founder and Chairman of NM Medical, a leading Pathology and Radiology diagnostic services provider with centres across Mumbai, Pune, and Bengaluru. Mr Rahil Shah, Director after his stint at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia has joined Dr Nilesh Shah to infuse dynamism and exploit the opportunity of growth in the healthcare sector and manage the day to day operations of the diagnostic centres.

Mr Rahil Shah, Director, NM Medical

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Indian 3D Printing Network: What is the idea behind Inspira 3D and can you tell us more about your strategy ?

Mr Rahil Shah: Inspira 3D was created with the objective to make medical 3D printing an integral component of clinical practice in India. 3D models are constructed from MRI and CT Scan images and challenges to adoption of these models in clinical practice include poor awareness among referring doctors, high cost, long turnaround times, and limited interaction between the Radiologist and the 3D printing lab. Inspira 3D seeks to address all these challenges. We decided to set up a 3D printing lab in collaboration with an existing 3D printing company – Anatomiz 3D – within our premises in South Mumbai where we have a full fledged diagnostic centre with 3 Tesla MRI & Cardiac CT Scan.

By housing their biomedical engineers within our premises we have been able to facilitate tremendous interaction between the 3D printing lab and our Radiologists to design and print models exactly as per the clinical need. Having the facility right next to the imaging modalities also means no time is wasted in image transfer and going back and forth with the Radiologists for final design before sending the model for print. We have invested in three printers with prudent selection of printing material to be able to provide the models at an affordable cost. This ensures patient acceptance and scalability. Our current goal is to get these models out in the market and create awareness about the value they provide for clinician-patient communication and for pre-surgical planning. To make this a reality we have priced the models in such a way that it covers our variable cost and we are currently absorbing all fixed costs including printer investment, rent, electricity, etc. In this manner we are able to drive demand directly through patients who would carry these models to their doctor and create interest and curiosity for the same.

One of the other advantages of having the 3D printing lab within our diagnostic centre premises is that a number of referring clinicians who visit the centre along with their patients for tests are given a tour of our 3D printing facility thus creating greater excitement and awareness for the 3D models.

Inspira 3D also has access to NM Inspira’s high tech training centre which allows us to create training and education programs on applications of 3D printing in medicine for small groups of clinicians, demonstrating the entire process right from image acquisition to design to print.

Lastly, we aim to be a provider of 3D printing solutions to all other diagnostic facilities as well including for scans performed in surrounding hospitals.

I3DPn: What are your thoughts on the major trends in Medical 3D Printing in India?

RS: The Medical 3D printing market in India has mostly witnessed growth only in dental applications. 3D Models for all other segments of medicine have been restricted to demonstrating gross abnormalities only, which require intricate detail and costly material selection. As a result 3D printing is being incorrectly perceived as applicable for a very limited set of clinical conditions with high cost and high turnaround time. This has really restricted the usage of these models in routine clinical practice and hampered the growth of this industry. A number of 3D printing labs that started with the intention to operate in this ultra niche space realized that the business was not scalable at all and had to shut down.

We have no doubt that the technology adds tremendous value to all streams of medicine and is here to stay. Hence we have created a rollout strategy to create mass awareness about the technology at an affordable cost. We are also looking forward to newer developments in this space including Biomedical printing and prosthetics.

I3DPn: What can we expect from Inspira 3D in 2018 ?

RS: In this year we look forward to working with like minded organisations such as Indian 3D Printing Network and with individuals who share our passion for making medical 3D printing a scalable business.

We intend to conduct a number of clinical education seminars to demonstrate the value of 3D Printing in Medicine. 3D printing will be made available to all the NM Medical locations in Mumbai and in Pune and we will also reach out to other free standing and hospital imaging facilities to provide 3D printing solutions for them.

We are also working with some radiology equipment vendors to make the process of 3D printing more seamless including creating output of CT Scans and MRIs in STL format to facilitate easier workflow. At a management level we are keen to attend international conferences that focus on Medical 3D Printing to be able to bring some of those ideas to India.

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About the author

Aditya Chandavarkar

Aditya Chandavarkar

Aditya Chandavarkar is a established entrepreneur with business interests in manufacturing, innovative technology and consulting. He is the co-founder of CNT Expositions and Services (acronym for Catalysing New Technologies), which was subsequently formed by the acquisition of Inkjet Forum India – a leading knowledge sharing platform for inkjet printing technology founded by him. At Inkjet Forum India, Aditya was single handedly responsible for conceptualizing and organizing conferences and educations programs, in the area of digital textile printing and industrial inkjet.