Digital technologies in extra-oral, soft tissue, facial prosthetics: Current state of the art
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Purpose – Maxillofacial Prosthetics is faced with increasing patient numbers and cost constraints leading to the need to explore whether computer-aided techniques can increase efficiency. This need was addressed through a four-year research project that identified quality, economic, technological and clinical implications of the application of digital technologies in maxillofacial prosthetics. This article addresses the aspects of this research that related to the application of Rapid Prototyping (RP). Design/Methodology/Approach – An Action Research approach was taken, utilising multiple case studies to evaluate the current capabilities of digital technologies in the preparation, design and manufacture of maxillofacial prostheses. Findings – The research indicates where RP has demonstrated potential clinical application and where further technical developments are required. The paper provides a technical specification towards which RP manufacturers can direct developments that would meet the needs of maxillofacial prosthetists. Originality/Value – Whilst research studies have explored digital technologies in maxillofacial prosthetics, they have relied on individual studies applying a single RP technology to one particular aspect of a prosthesis. Consequently, conclusions on the wider implications have not been possible. This research explored the application of digital technologies to every aspect of the design and manufacture of a series of maxillofacial prostheses. Unlike previous research the cases described here addressed the application of RP to the direct manufacture of substructures, retention components and texture. In addition, this research analysed prosthetic requirements to ascertain target technical specifications towards which RP processes should be developed.
Journal of Maxillofacial Prosthetics and Technology
Eggbeer, D., Bibb, R. & Evans, P. (2007) 'Digital technologies in extra-oral, soft tissue, facial prosthetics: Current state of the art', Journal of Maxillofacial Prosthetics and Technology, 10, pp. 9-16.
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