25.03.2022 - Healthcare, Innovation, Technology

CastPrint to use RTU and LU supercomputers

A consortium of the medical technology startup CastPrint, Riga Technical University (RTU) HPC Centre, and the Institute of Numerical Modelling at the University of Latvia (UL) will improve the quality of the company’s personalized medical devices and reduce production time by using supercomputing. To do this, the consortium has raised 140,000 euros under the Horizon 2020 research and innovation support program.  

CastPrint develops customized 3D-printed casts for the treatment of various types of fractures. The Institute of Numerical Modelling at the UL will create the numerical model and topological optimization algorithms for the casts, as well as organize the durability evaluation of the new product.

Whereas the RTU HPC Centre has been engaged as the largest supercomputer resource provider in Latvia with the knowledge of the necessary technical and software support for the successful execution of the project. CastPrint will have to ensure that the models of the casts created with the help of the supercomputer, as well as the printed material itself, meet the quality requirements of both patients and medical professionals, as well as production.

Optimizing the Amount of Material Used

The consortium has won the FF4EUROHPC call for proposals for 140,000 euros. The project started in March and will last 15 months. Previously, Jānis Oliņš, co-founder of CastPrint, told Labs of Latvia that the project will try to solve several problems related to 3D technology.

“Supercomputers will help us to provide the highest quality 3D models possible, as well as optimize the amount of material used without sacrificing durability: the less material CastPrint needs to print, the faster it will print,” he explained.

Each scanned surface is made up of more than one million elements. Therefore, applying any automation algorithm requires significant computer resources, which would be time-consuming for a normal office computer. During the project, the company will try to solve two major challenges: reducing the design and printing time of the cast. “In the best-case scenario, by working with the supercomputing competence center, we will be able to produce CastPrint models that will be printed faster and reach the patient faster, being at least as durable,” says Oliņš.

The Foot Is in the Door

“To compete in the global market, it is inevitable to integrate HPC into high-tech business processes. I hope that we will see more and more good examples of “Industry 4.0″-compliant technologies being implemented in Latvian companies, especially since now supercomputers in Latvia can be used by anyone who is interested,” says Jānis Virbulis, head of the Semiconductor Technology Laboratory at the Institute of Numerical Modelling at the University of Latvia. He adds that the Latvian HPC Competence Centre will help companies that are interested in implementing these technologies in their processes but lack the knowledge.

There is a saying ‘to get one’s foot in the door’. I would like to apply this to the first success in the FF4EUROHPC project competition. In January 2021, when we had just started the EuroCC project, the first call for projects was held. In the second call, there were already three applicants from Latvia. We hope that the next call will have even more applications,” says Ilmārs Slaidiņš, RTU senior researcher and EuroCC project manager in Latvia.

The FF4EuroHPC call for projects aims to foster high-quality experimentation by inviting innovative SMEs to develop work plans based on innovations using high-performance computing services. The FF4EuroHPC is funded with 5 million euros, with a maximum of 200,000 euros per project.

Three Latvian companies, SIA CastPrint, SIA Pelegrin, and SIA Ardenis, applied for the FF4EuroHPC project in the recent call for proposals. In total, 74 applications from 27 countries were submitted. Calls for these programs are usually every six months. The next call is expected in spring.

Facilitating Access to Supercomputing Technologies

The RTU HPC Centre, in cooperation with the Institute of Numerical Modelling at the University of Latvia, has set up a supercomputing competence center as part of the European Union’s EuroCC project, wrote Labs of Latvia. It is a single support structure to promote the use of supercomputing in higher education, research, public administration, and business.

The supercomputing competence center is part of the European Union’s EuroCC project, which has been set up to develop supercomputing in Europe, building an expert base and competencies in supercomputing. The Latvian center is one of 33 competence centers in Europe.

The project is funded under the European research program Horizon 2020. The project will run until September 2022. The next phase is also expected to be funded by European funds.

Making Processes More Efficient

Kārlis Muižnieks, the project coordinator at EuroCC, told Labs of Latvia that supercomputers are used in AI operations and analysis, as well as in various types of modeling. The use of this technology makes processes more efficient and helps to develop new products faster in research and development projects.

Muižnieks illustrates that with supercomputing, a solution could be reached in two hours instead of two weeks. This means that sometimes as much numerical modeling can be done on a computer in a day as with traditional methods in a year.

“There are also processes that cannot be done at all without supercomputing,” he says.

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