Tallinn University of Technology

Yaroslav Holovenko, who defended his doctoral thesis at TalTech, can now use the education he acquired in Estonia to help Ukrainian war victims by 3D printing bone and joint implants for them, writes the Postimees.

Yaroslav Holovenko Lauri Kollo implantaat 3D printimine
Yaroslav Holovenko (standing) and Lauri Kollo

Text: Ain Alvela

Yaroslav Holovenko came to Estonia in 2015, when he started looking for PhD opportunities after completing his education at the mechanical engineering faculty of the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute. He looked at different options in the USA, England, and Estonia and finally decided on TalTech, which had just purchased its first 3D metal printer and which selected him from a number of other candidates as the most suitable one due to his background and education. He also became the first doctoral student of TalTech to write his thesis on 3D printing with metals. By now, about a dozen students have followed suit.

TalTech laid the foundation for future work

Holovenko's five-year research at TalTech revolved around 3D printing, or more specifically – the printing of metal and metal-ceramic honeycomb materials for tribological and thermoacoustic applications; he was supervised by Lauri Kollo and Renno Veinthal.

Holovenko also worked as a junior researcher in the 3D printing lab of Taltech for a short time after defending his PhD in 2019. But then, by chance, he crossed paths with Ukrainian businessmen who were looking to apply technology that was globally still quite innovative – the production of implants using 3D printing.

So in early 2020, he found himself running a start-up company in Ukraine, and due to sufficient funding, he managed to acquire cutting-edge equipment from Germany for printing titanium alloy implants for joints, bones, and bone parts.

‘The technology there is the same that Yaroslav used in TalTech. So he already had four years of hands-on experience with the equipment by the time he moved to Ukraine and was quite familiar with these kinds of devices,’ says Lauri Kollo, describing the result of implementing the doctoral thesis of Holovenko in practice.

Today, so-called ordinary patients have been replaced by people wounded as a result of hostilities – implants are fitted to replace bones in the skull, face, and limbs to prevent amputation.

‘Very often, our implant is the only way to avoid amputation. The most common decision in such cases would be amputation, but now, doctors have the opportunity to consider whether the arms or legs of patients could perhaps be saved with a 3D printed titanium implant,’ Holovenko says.

Read the full article (in Estonian) in the Postimees.