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The Essence of this Environment is Scholarly


An interview with professor Miklós Nyitrai, the leader of the 3D Project

Notably, the Grand Opening of PTE 3D Laboratory highlighted with ultra-modern 3D printers and a host of specialized diagnostic research equipment, which is expected to have a significant role in education and research, was celebrated on the 21st of March, 2018.  Moreover, in its capacity as a Visitor Center, it is entirely and freely accessible. Following the scheduling of an appointment, and available to those genuinely interested in science and modern technology. Plans also include hosting events and welcoming grammar school students to the Vision Center, towards fully acquainting them with the future 3D technology.

The aim of the University is to revolutionize the development of the region through its 3D project in several fields, including medical care, the application of state of the art technologies, and research and development-innovation.

The 3D Lab is located in the PTE Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology’s building complex, and now resides in the space formerly occupied by the Faculty Library. 

Here within the two-story building, the scent of freshly painted walls, the fragrance of new, lush carpeting and the unmistakable trace of new machinery, the respected Dr. Miklos Nyitrai, graciously welcomed me and served as my guide, politely answering my questions and offering me insight into the world of 3D Print Technology.

Part I.

Written by Rita Schweier

“It feels entirely suited to serving the citizens of Pecs, beyond a question. Obviously, in terms of superb interior design and a contemporary and professional nod to décor, your designer certainly sought in avoiding a potential, clichéd, unpleasantly sterilized industrial environment.”

“In respect to the ambience of the environment, indeed, we made certain the reception area evokes a pleasant vibe, one in which guests and clients easily acclimate themselves to, while patiently waiting for their hosts/hostesses. Contemporary, colorful design elements, including spectacularly printed shapes, drape the interior walls, effectively symbolizing the vast range of the 3E Print and Visionary activities.”

“Later, in the near future, plans are to further enhance the visual treatment of the Center, including a drinking fountain and a coffee vending machine. During the second phase of the construction, we are planning to install a glass wall, intended to offer some separation to the reception area, and illuminate this area with the use of natural lighting. Additionally, issue of increasing the amount of natural light to the interior is important to the team as it generally increases the grandeur and spaciousness of the center.”

“Lastly, the staff intends to arrange meetings amongst our business partnerships including the research team in the adjacent environment on the opposite side of the soon-to-be- installed glass wall.”

“Currently, five faculties originating from within the University are actively participating in the 3D Project, and every Faculty delegates a coordinator. The coordinators congregate monthly and offer status reports to the Project Leaders, Marketing Manager and Financial Manager.”

“Is there a Faculty which comparatively speaking, earns more attention within the core of the Project, when compared to others?”

“It is difficult to accurately explain, since one can’t reasonably  expect to equally compare an orange to an apple. The Faculty of Business and Economics both provides our marketing strategy and has an immense and positive impact upon our business model.”

“In regards to our visual artists, 3D model printing is considered a superb tool to materialize their concepts.” 

“Essentially, regarding the interior space, we are all entirely grateful to the Faculty of Engineering for the embellishments made to this location. The architectural aesthetics now possess the potential to implement 3D technology intended for the construction of models, ideally suited to enhancing and ensuring our engineers are aptly equipped with contemporary 3D Print Technology used today in designing prototypes.”

“Notably, throughout recent advances in medicine and healthcare, the potential advantage implies a significant opportunity towards elevating professional healthcare in our country. It is not strictly limited to printing anatomical educational models, but also used in effectively printing customized prosthetics. Following a CT and MRI scan, we can print specifically, the bone(s) which are going to offer our corresponding doctors immediate, accurate strategies towards the developmental approach to surgery and/or print cutting-piercing samples which operating physicians will implement during a surgical operation, and the key advantage here, is, our physicians won’t have to recreate them into the patient.” 

“Are all these previously listed projects developed from the two billion HUF, EU sponsorship which was graciously granted over a four year period?”

“Yes, these projects are entirely and fully supported by this grant. The financial management aspect of the Project originates from this very generous financial source. Truthfully, the amount, in its embryonic form is, 1.85 billion HUF. Out of this total sum, the University of Debrecen received 200 million HUF. Although we are financing the wage cost from the received sum, we are planning to break even and reach independence, regarding our budget, within the next two years, including assistance from our serviceable incomes.”

“How does the 3D Print and Visionary Center determine what tools are going to be printing?”

“Following various, intensive, yet brief and articulate consultations amongst my Colleagues, it literally is my responsibility to effectively prioritize the plethora of objectives. Ideally, in the future, we expect to determine if and what worth it may be towards developing a separate arm, or branch, to effectively serve in absorbing this very function.”

“Will the University of Pecs, officially declare, and formerly acknowledge the uniqueness of a 3D Print and Vision Center, specifically, when considering the breadth of our country?” 

“The complexity and the amount of apparatuses represents a truly a unique initiative, yet, only two thirds of the projected equipment has arrived. Beyond the proverbial bells and whistles whisked in by the daily deliveries of ultra-modern 3D Printers, inexplicably, is the phenomenal willingness and collaborative attitudes of the participating (five) faculties. This represents an exemplary unity, not only nationally, but internationally, as well.”

“While exiting the Meeting Room, I note several small printers adjacent to one another, and am eager to know the intent of such a display?”

“These models are Hungarian developed machines, and currently, we have ten of them on display, valued each at or approximately at 300.000 HUF, per unit. The units are ideally suited towards educational purposes, largely due to the fact in which these models are based on a similar technology, when compared to other printers, which are valued at or about 90 million HUF. These printers, although considerably small in size, are not only suitable for teaching but providing a measure of cost efficiency.”

Meanwhile Mr. Janos Mendler enters the tour and eloquently explains, specifically, how bones conceptualized and intended for educational purposes, are printed:

Mendler janos

 “We first need to make a suitable mold for the bone(s), and in support of an effective mold, it is necessary to generate a specimen, which will soon be available. This will be a high volume bone, structured from smaller parts, and these printers are handsomely suitable for this purpose. The build tray is fractionally lowered, and then, the next layer is added, eventually printing an approximately 20 cm long product.” 

The extruder and the build tray must attain the proper temperature. The build tray must reach 60°C, and the extruder 215°C. As a result, the filament melts within the extruder. The extruder is the core of the printer. It is where the plastic is drawn in, melted, and forced out. Two cooling fans immediately lower the temperature of the plastic, once it is deposited through the nozzle. We can view from another printer, with a sliced bone on the tray, in which we see the surface of the bone, sliced in half, and on the end the bone, a shaped head which broadens and resembles a water tower.”

“Next, I connect a pen drive to the printer, download all the relevant data onto it, specifically, what the printer is programmed to do. I previously modeled the bone in 3D, followed in the use of a specialized software, which layers the model and creates the file, ideally compatible to, and effectively interfaces the 3D printer. Specifically, we are describing the 3D printing of thigh bone, measured at 17 cm.” 

“How much time is required to effectively produce a 3D printed operational-prototype?”

“On average, we require two and a half to three hours print time, however, I must mention, the process involves a harmonious synchronicity, since several printers are simultaneously printing at work, printing at the same interval of time. Lastly, I administer the RTV silicone onto the master element. Once the silicone is successfully cured, I remove the original element from the mold, and next, I cast polyurethane resin parts to the finished piece.” 

“How similar is the quality when compared to the original one?”

“Admittedly, It is not entirely identical, however, when considering our recent development, we are well within the margin of acceptance and efficiency regarding similarities in quality. Once we pour a polyurethane foam, it is foamed in a standing mold, and we acquire a consistency, regarding the material. It is possible to rotate the mold, in such a way it results in a hollow cast, much like a chocolate egg. It is also possible to fill in the hollow with foam, in which case the result is a bone marrow format: firm on the outside, soft in the inside. This is extremely useful in student practice, since, upon drilling,  students can feel exactly when they passed through the hard surface of the bone and once they reach the soft portion.”

“Am I correct to presume, the designing phase requires more time when compared to actual printing?”

 “That’s right, although it is largely dependent on the working data we are presented. We can acquire data from CT scans, when working an actual case. From the CT scan, we can segment the different consistency in tissues, and then we design a 3D model of a certain body part, accomplished through the use of software. When the issue is not in reference to an actual bone, it is possible to download samples from the internet which serve in aiding the accurate design of the product.. What is fundamentally necessary, however, is to design the connecting surfaces correctly, ensuring the surfaces tightly fit and are suitably aligned, without unnecessary rotation. Once the bone model is completely available, it only takes 90 minutes to print a sample, or replication. The case with this bone in the printer is different since the software used was new, and I also needed to make alterations during the process. After checking with the traumatologists, I shortened it, since, at first, it didn’t fit in the rotating tool. Post-sculpting required extra time.”

“Specifically, what areas of research have you pursued?”

“Originally, I completed my diploma in mechanical engineering. I have been educating myself with regards to 3D Print Technology dating back to 1995. In mechanical engineering, we usually work with regular shapes, and now, in the realm of 3D Printing, we are using organic shapes which requires a different working process. Essentially, this why we have to experiment with many kind of software to find out which is the most applicable. We also have to take into consideration the financial implication of the software, since, currently there is a substantially wide range of software available on the market, some of which are free, however, some are considerably expensive.”

Meanwhile, Professor Miklos Nyitrai enters the Research Room, which is the soul of the 3D Center, speaks momentarily among his Colleagues, who are intently at work, designing on their computers. Professor Nyitrai frankly states the team has not yet determined the precise functionality of the nearby vacant room.  in the meantime they will use it as an assembling station.


“I’m curious, where can one find the new arrivals, the stupendously large 3D printers?”

“They are positioned downstairs, and due to their immense size, occupy several rooms. Here, in the ‘prep’ area or preparation room, the printed product undergoes additional, finely tuned development. It is ideally suitable in the removal of the dust, which, of course, is synonymous with printing, so this room is extremely useful in the ‘follow-up phase.” 

“Next to this room, you will find the storage room, in which staff generally store ink, paint, filaments, and other essential supplies and tools. Stepping into the next room, you will see our FDM Printer, which is much greater in size when compared to the printers you saw upstairs. This model is valued at 90 million HUF. An expert from Greece successfully taught us its entire operational capabilities in four, intensive days!”

“Are the engineers skilled regarding 3D Print Technology?”

“Absolutely, we are entirely fortunate to be blessed with highly intelligent, intuitive engineers, which I genuinely characterize as experts in their field. Essentially, the primary issue of importance lies in considering prioritizing the workflow and organizing a variety of operational initiatives conducive to 3D Print Technology. We have to weigh the consequences, which project requires a higher level of attention. There are several good ideas within Pecs, and throughout Baranya, however, the outstanding critical aspect is we have yet to connect them, and effectively channel this vast network. Fundamentally, what is immediately necessary is to develop a professional relationship amongst the innovators. Once we discover a superb innovation, our task is to materialize it.”

“As we continue our stroll through the corridors of the 3D Print and Visionary Center, we arrive at the entrance of the  fabricating laboratory. It is here in which the traditional tools are stored, such as a rasp or a milling machine. And in this room one can see a special machine which requires a single room, since it’s functionality is largely determined by the amount of space it is freely allocated and the room temperature remains consistent.” 

“Did the entire team attend the Opening of the 3D Print and Visionary Center?”

“Nearly, however, we still want to increase the number of engineers, adding some 5-10 people, on board. The number of employees ideally will be adjusted to the number of machines and printers. We want to provide our staff members with a realistic, optimal workload.”

“Ahh, yes, here is my favorite printer, which is capable of printing up to seven colors simultaneously! This is truly a wonderful piece of 3D technology! This unit entirely based upon a totally different technology, when compared to other 3D printers. A truly unique characteristic of this unit is it is capable of printing with a minimum of dust. It is valued at 80-90 million HUF.”

“We positioned a central workstation, from which a majority of printers can be controlled, including yet another stylish printer which is similar to the previous one, based on ‘jet’ technology. Although it is smaller in size, this unit offers a wonderful opportunity regarding dentistry technology. Dr. Gyula Marada, Head of The 3D Project’s Dental Working Group, has been frequently using it. Dr. Marada serves on the Debrecen Team, and he is also teaching the very same technology. 

‘Operative dentistry’ implements are mostly produced in the traditional sense, however, as recently, it’s growing more practical to print them using a 3D printer. To cite an example, in order to effectively print a customized, fitted-brace, a 3D printer is faster and more cost-efficient, than compared with producing it using the conventional method. In summary, the 3D printer proves to be most convenient, when you only need to print several units. It is inconsequential whether you have a sample to work with, as one can design using the appropriate software.” 

“Next, within this space, a silicone or Kevlar printer is expected to arrive soon, and make this area its new home.”

“The back portion of the basement is the Corvus Med’s territory. This entity has been producing prosthetics for more than 20 years. As a renowned business, Corvus Med is well-respected in the business, however, they have not yet eased into 3D technology. Naturally, Corvus Med intends to honor the standard rental fee, issued on behalf of the University of Pecs, once they relocate here, in November, 2018. Their ‘agreed to’ real estate is projected for completion during the second phase of the reconstruction.”

Interestingly, it is not often a local business partners with the University, and eventually determines to work side-by-side, and directly, with us! The secret, lies within the very fact, we all get along amazingly well, and we strive to keep it professional and optimistic. Additionally, we host regular team-buiding events, and they are well-attended and popular among both groups. If only for this collaboration, it was well worth to establish the entire project.”

“How many printers does the 3D Print and Technology Center require for optimum output?” 

“Seriously, our Lab may never be completely finished, since this field is rapidly expanding. New software and printers frequently pop-up on the market, and so, we are in a constant state of procurement, so it seems, to effectively purchase new appliances.”

“To date, the 3D Print and Technology Center has spent more than half the amount of the sum originally received and intended solely for the procurement of appliances and the accompanying supplies.” 

“In addition to printers, scanners are also important, and we expect receipt of their delivery in the near future. We originally requested a 250 million HUF printer, which reportedly, is the most current and up-to-date unit, of its kind, today. However, we may opt for lesser costly scanners, and commit the remaining balance to procuring Kevlar and Silicone Printers.”

“We always are mindful to consider, whether our procurement is profitable throughout a 5 year cycle. In consideration of this perspective, regarding the operational printers currently assigned to the 3D Print Technology and Vision Center, the answer is yes. Personally speaking, I am not absolutely certain in the case of a printer valued at 250 million HUF!”

“When we were contemplating the procurement of a printer of this magnitude, regarding cost, printers of this sort were non-existent in Hungary. Today, the Debrecen Orthopedic Clinic and Budapest University of Engineering each possess the very same printer, and as a result, I’m not sure we need a third unit”

“Did you follow a business template or an architectural rendering, some type of an example, when you installed the vast amount of equipment in the 3D Lab?”

“In researching similarly functioning 3D Laboratories around the globe, the common denominator is consistently based upon the same premise: Procure a variety of quality-oriented printers and machines, position them in a reasonable, well-ventilated environment, then invite experts into the work space, and crank ‘em up! The difference is, how one effectively assimilates 3D Print Technology into the academic environment of the University.” 

“Admittedly, at the onset of development, our fault was how to operationally grasp this wonderfully new 3D Print Technology, harness its resourcefulness, manage control over the machinery, as opposed to the machines managing the operators.”

 “At risk, was immersing ourselves into 3D Print Technology, quickly becoming overwhelmed by the onslaught of the potential dividend to the surrounding communities, and losing control of the functionality. Estimating the appropriate number of staff proved challenging, without even considering who and how best to educate one another with respect to the printers, sharing the knowledge and building upon one another’s accumulated experience.” 

"The Italian model, for instance, operates without staff members, using small printers and machines. Participating designers upload their quotes, fulfill an on-line order in support of print request, and forward the order to the dispatch hub. Once complete and ready for pick-up, the designers arrive on station, and retrieve their printed unit(s). Personally speaking, I don’t consider this as a useful scientific portfolio, specifically regarding our mission objectives in support of the University of Pecs.”

“Distinctively, the entirety of the printers, machines and equipment we now have on site here within this center is invaluable, however, the real treasure is the staff, the individuals, the free thinkers, the vanguard of ingenuity with respect to the participating five faculties.” 

“Our success regarding the future and our short term goals is dependent on whether we culminate in a successful functioning team, and acquire a superbly efficient management control system, one which ensures we are vigilant to our mission objectives, strategically responsible to our assigned duties and willing and able to effectively manage and operate our printers, machines and equipment with respect, efficiency and functionality.”