African conference discovers advances in 3D printing from Huddersfield professor

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A Huddersfield professor who has been exploring how the latest advances in 3D printing technology can improve personalised medicine within dentistry was invited to speak at a major health exhibition and conference in Africa after his research caught the attention of experts hosting the event in Egypt.

Professor Liam Blunt is Director of the Centre for Precision Technologies (CPT) within the University of Huddersfield’s School of Computing and Engineering and is regarded as a leading authority within the fields of surface metrology and precision manufacturing processes.

He was invited to speak at the 2023 Africa Health ExCon and delivered a talk titled ‘3D milling and 3D printing…are they competing or complementing?’ alongside Cairo University’s Professor Atef Shaker, during the second session of ‘Advances in Restorative Dentistry’.

Africa Health ExCon is an annual showcase demonstrating the continent’s potential for investment in manufacturing, pharmaceutical business and innovative health technology and is visited annually by health professionals and medical students from across Africa and the Middle East as well as delegates attending from further afield.

“Maxillofacial surgery is a surgical specialty focusing on diagnosis, treatment and reconstruction of diseases or trauma affecting the mouth, jaws, face and neck,” explained Professor Blunt.

“From personalised dental implants through to big sections of jawbone, one of the new technologies being utilised to ensure they get these designs just right is 3D printing. This technology although still in its development phase will most definitely be huge in the future and is what I spoke about at the conference,” he added.

Future opportunities for international collaboration

Following the conference Professor Blunt accepted an invitation to visit Cairo University with whom he discussed various avenues for collaborative research in the future.

This was followed by a fact-finding visit to Egypt’s MISR University for Science and Technology (MuST) where Professor Blunt, who is also President of the European Society for Precision Engineering and Nanotechnology (euspen), was given a guided tour around some of the institution’s world-leading facilities.

Delegates from MuST’s College of Oral and Dental Surgery had recently been welcomed to the University of Huddersfield by Professor Blunt when they visited the Centre for Precision Technologies to view the 3D printing devices housed in the Surface Metrology Laboratory.  Professor Blunt told the visitors how the technology is capable of dealing with a variety of metals and that it is considered to be industry-leading within the 3D printing field.

Both parties agreed such laboratory capabilities could serve the research plan of MuST's College of Oral and Dental Surgery in several specialties, including Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Periodontal Surgery, Dental Prostheses and Conservative Dentistry.

A Master’s degree in Digital Implantology

As a result, a Master’s degree in Digital Implantology will now be taught at MuST, assisted with study visits to the University’s CPT.

In addition to the degree, a small number of high achieving students will also be given the opportunity to achieve a separate certificate awarded by the CPT, on the condition they complete the required practical training offered by the Centre.

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