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Date: Wed Jan 22 1997 - 20:04:35 EET

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Date: Wed, 22 Jan 1997 11:24:23 -0500 (EST)
From: "Justin R. Kidder" <>
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Subject: Re: NIH Scientific Review
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On Mon, 20 Jan 1997, Lone Peak Engineering, Inc. wrote:

> Dear RP Community:
> Recently, Lone Peak submitted a proposal on medical rapid prototyping
> (construction of three-dimensional models from medical scan data in
> emergency scenarios) to the United States National Institute of Health.
> This proposal was not funded. While I realize that one can always improve
> on the innovative nature of these submissions and that the chances of award
> are low, I thought you might be interested in the review committees
> comments.
> (harsh comments deleted...)
> ----- Now maybe I am wrong but it sounds like the committee does not think
> too much of medical rapid prototyping. They defintely did not like our
> proposal. I wonder if they got a copy of the JTEC report?

Wow, that's kind of discouraging, but at the same time, they did have some
good points. Visualization technologies have come a long way, and with
the advent of fast 3-D rendering and display, telepresense technologies,
augmented reality and even VR, doctors are starting to think that a
computer simulation of the patient's anatomy (through CT, MRI) will
provide them with more than enough information to make informed decisions.
However, it does have its limitations. Most surgeons are very tactile
people, like artists, mechanics, (or even some engineers). A solid model
that can be obtained fast *would* be an invaluable tool if it could be
done at low cost (compared to a computer simulation of the same anatomy),
fast (a good computer model could be created automatically in well under
an hour with good software, as opposed to a RP'd model, which can take
days), and accurately. The technology for haptic feedback used in
conjunction with VR just isn't good enough yet to rely purely on

The critique of the proposal states that companies are poised to create
models fast and cheaply if the demand is there, but in real life this just
isn't the case. Much more integration needs to be done between the
doctor's, designer's and manufacturer's roles to shorten the part's design
cycle. Better technologies are needed to help automate model
reconstruction from scanning data. And as we all have been hearing, there
needs to be more widespread acceptance of the technologies that we develop
among medical personnel, insurance companies, etc...

BTW, we submitted a proposal on this same topic to the NSF in November, so
I hope that engineers feel differently about this matter than doctors do.
I have a feeling that they will see it in a completely different light...

Just my two cents,

Justin Kidder, Research Asst. | Automation and Robotics Laboratory | University of Pittsburgh
               Home page:
"Artificial intelligence usually beats real stupidity"

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