Mackay Hospital: Surgery simulation with Bolt Pro

Repairing things is in our bones

Surgery is something mankind has been doing for over 2000 years. Although these procedures were far cruder, the idea of repairing something – even the human body – is rooted deeply within mankind.

3D printing bones for improved procedures

3D printing is often used for repairs but FDM printed parts are not used directly inside of the human body, yet. It can, however, help with a procedure by re-creating the fracture of a person’s bones. This is extremely useful in more than one way since each body is unique, which means that no procedure is the same.

Transforming surgery through 3D printing

The Mackay Hospital and Health Service is an organisation that manages eight hospitals and four community health facilities in the Queensland state of Australia. It has over 2000 dedicated employees that provide extensive health services to a number of 180.000 people in the region.

The Mackay Base Hospital is able to provide the highest level of healthcare for its region. This means that it is often sought out to, or referred to by other parties. They manage to do this by using leading edge technology, allowing them to challenge the way they work and think.

Thought leader by challenging day to day situations

Being one of the first to use a Bolt 3D Printer, the Mackey Base Hospital started researching new methods for their practice in the beginning of 2017.

3D printed bones, Leapfrog, Mackay hospital, surgery simulation, Bolt Pro 3D printer

They started 3D printing fractures of patients to make complex surgeries more tangible and easier to explain to the patient itself. This also allowed the physicians to better classify the type of fracture which leads to a better handover of information to their colleagues. The overall improvement was a better defined documentation which made their process more reliable.

We got in touch with doctor Jonathan Davies, responsible for 3D printing, to talk about this ground breaking method.

  • How does using our product help your team achieve its mission?

We are able to print fractured bones or bony deformities which gives the surgeons a tactile model to imprint the bony architecture in their memory. This makes surgery much easier and increases the surgeons understanding of the geometry. We can also use the models to trial implants and metalware so that we know what equipment will work best for fixing fractures. “

3D printed bones, Leapfrog, Mackay hospital, surgery simulation, Bolt Pro 3D printer
  • What was the most obvious advantage you felt the Bolt 3D Printer offered?

“Large print volume allowing us to print large bones. High temp hot ends allow us to print with heat stable materials that could be sterilized (however, unfortunately, FDA approval means we cannot do this). Enclosed with HEPA filter allowed us to use in our office.”

How successful are you and your team are as a result of our using our product?

All surgeons using the models are very happy and see a great perceived benefit. Our prints have for the most part come out very well, and I myself (starting as a complete novice) have found the learning curve manageable and been impressed with how easy it was to get to the point of producing consistently good results.”

3D printed bones, Leapfrog, Mackay hospital, surgery simulation, Bolt Pro 3D printer
  • By using our product can you measure any improvements in productivity or time savings?

“Possibly a saving of operating time due to the increased familiarity of surgeons and the procedure/architecture”


It is obvious that 3D printing for the medical industry has real benefits. However, 3D printing can often surprise us where and how it can benefit a certain process, service or product. 3D printing can produce more than just a product. Proven by the Mackay Base Hospital, it can also be a tool for communication and documentation. Improving their process and with it, the reliability of service they can provide. By thinking out of the box and with the help of these in-depth researches we can expect that 3D printing will become a familiar tool in a growing number of medical offices.

Leapfrog Bolt Pro 3D printer

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