FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics teams love 3D printed parts! From gears to treads, from wheels to phone mounts, from sprockets to strain relief, the FTC 2016 World Championship was full of colorful 3D printed parts. Simply walking down the aisles of the pits, we were hard-pressed to find a team that didn’t utilize this exciting technology in some way. Most teams use Stratasys 3D printers, we noted, including many MakerBots. Students were eager to speak with us about their 3D printed components, and we learned about many unique design elements made possible thanks to Stratasys 3D Printers.

On our World Championship robot, we used a large variety of 3D printed parts, including a sprocket, sensor mounts, strain relief, a wedge, a spool and a phone mount. We have found that Stratasys 3D printers are incredibly helpful in creating parts when nothing that fits our needs exists. Having access to a 3D printer allowed the team to visually see what they needed to fix and what they could leave “as-is.” We personally enjoy our Stratasys MakerBot Replicator 3D Printer because of its user-friendly interface; it gives us the power to create nearly anything.

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When taking a quick glance over the lineup of robots present at the World Championship, anyone’s eye would immediately be caught by the robot designed and built by the Blockheads, FTC team 7117. Their rainbow-colored creation was almost entirely 3D printed, from the treads to the debris collector. By the team’s last count, their robot had more than 80 3D printed parts!The use of 3D printed anatomical replicas for medical education and training is steadily increasing, driven by a desire to find alternatives to expensive, hard-to-get cadavers; animal models that don’t include pathology; or mannequins that don’t represent the full range of clinical complexity.

3D printed static biomodels, instrumental for communicating anatomical structures, and physical simulators, which are used to practice medical procedures, may be valuable tools to address the training difficulties – but the benefits must be better understood. One thing that has been lacking until now is the comprehensive analysis of investigative works, trials and studies related to the education of students, residents and practitioners.

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To provide an in-depth understanding of 3D printing’s advantages and efficacy, Stratasys has researched the current state of published science on the use of 3D printing as a tool for the advancement, acceleration and improvement of medical training. Working with an independent third party, Stratasys identified recent medical literature citing the use of 3D printing in education and training. The approaches, results and findings were then summarized in a Stratasys White Paper: “ENHANCING CLINICAL PREPAREDNESS – REVIEW OF PUBLISHED LITERATURE ON 3D PRINTING APPLICATIONS FOR MEDICAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING.”

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A total of 31 scientific papers were analyzed. In these papers, anatomical replicas created via 3D printing were used as adjuncts or alternatives to traditional medical education tools. These 3D printed tools were used across nine specialties and in general medical training, and evaluated accordingly.


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