4 Things You May Care On Medical 3d Printing

 

3d printing has revolutionized the medical industry in a lot of ways. Cure of many complex medical conditions is now possible, thanks to 3d printing. However, 3d printing has not been widely adopted in the medical sector yet. A major issue could be that the manufacturing and medical industry are not working in harmony. So, we still have some ways to go before 3d printing can impact the medical sector.

In this article, we will discuss the current standing of 3d printing technology in the medical sector. You will learn the benefits of 3d printing in the medical field. We will also discuss some of the promising 3d printing medical applications.

3d printed prosthetic arm

How Does It Work?

3d printing builds up a product by adding material layer by layer. It is also known as additive manufacturing. This type of manufacturing technique allows one to create complex parts without any hassle. You can even create homogeneous hollow parts or parts with an internal truss structure to reduce weight.

It was previously very difficult or often impossible to create certain types of artificial organs. But, you don’t have to worry about the shape of the item anymore. The layered manufacturing process made it possible to replicate tissues, organs, bones, etc.

There are different types of 3d printers available right now. Medical applications mainly utilize the following types of 3d printers,

  • Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
  • Stereolithography (SLA)
  • Bioprinting

FDM is the most common type of 3d printer we get to see in action. The working principle of an FDM 3d printer is pretty simple and similar to an inkjet printer. They are very affordable. You can buy a tabletop FDM 3d printer at a fairly low cost. With this, you can make personalized medical supplies like a finger splint at home.

Manufacturers use SLA and SLS for medical device prototyping. These are currently very popular in the manufacturing industry. Bioprinting is a totally different concept. Instead of traditional materials, it works with living cells to create biomaterials.

There are many more types of 3d printing technology in existence. They may have differences in speed, quality, and material support. But, all of the techniques follow a layer-wise construction method. Apart from the above types, medical researchers use different modified 3d printers as well.

 

Impact on the Medical Industry

3d printing is a fairly new technology invented around the 1980s. Since then, medical researchers have had a keen interest in this technology. It has become a buzz word in the medical industry in recent years. There is numerous completed and ongoing research on the application of 3d printing in medical technology.

3d printing has made the manufacturing of many complex medical devices much more effortless. Some medical accessories like prostheses, which were extremely expensive once, are very affordable now. So, more and more people are opting for 3d printing day by day.

The market share of 3d printers in the medical industry was valued at 973 million USD in 2018. According to Allied Market Research, the industry will be worth 3,692 million dollars by 2026 with a CAGR of 18.2%. It is a clear indication of its overwhelming popularity among people. As the technology evolves, we might see many other exciting 3d printing medical applications in the future.

 

Application in Medical Field

Even until the last decade, 3d printing was a fairly new concept to medical researchers. But, in recent times, we have noticed some exceptional hype regarding medical 3d printing. Researchers have found unique and innovative ways to apply 3d printing in medical treatment.

We will be discussing the popular 3d printer application in the medical sector below.

 

Medical Devices

The manufacturing industry uses 3d printing for prototyping medical devices. 3d printing is known for its speed and ability to produce intricate parts. It is often impossible to produce using other manufacturing techniques.

The production of functional metal parts with 3d printing is still limited. The main reason is, metal 3d printing medical equipment is quite costly, and it will need more time to be widely adopted. However, plastic 3d printing is much more economical. It is a widely accepted means for prototyping medical devices.

3d printing medical devices product prototype has enabled manufacturers to shorten the production time drastically. So, research and development of new healthcare devices have become much faster. It is rapidly advancing medical technologies forward.

Medical device 3d printing prototyping

Prostheses

3d printing has made an immense improvement in the prosthetics sector. It has made prostheses much more affordable for people. Now, some might confuse between these two terms. Here, prosthetics refer to the medical science of replacing one’s lost limbs with artificial ones. And prostheses refer to the artificial limb itself.

3d printed prosthesis

3d printed prostheses is a revolutionary invention in medical history. It has given new hope to countless people who lost their limbs to an accident or disease, which could be a leg, hand, fingers, ear, and so on. It is now more cost-effective and personalized than ever.

Before that, making prostheses was complicated and expensive. And many third-world countries didn’t have the proper technology to make prostheses. So, very few were fortunate enough to get their hands on a prosthetic limb.

 

Dental

3d printing has been doing wonders in the dental industry too. You can create natural-looking crowns or dentures. Gone are the days when repairing your teeth could cost you a fortune. Making tooth models were very costly and time-consuming at that time.

3d printing technology has substantially improved many dental operations. You can scan your teeth structure with a 3d scanner and model braces for your teeth. Braces made this way is much more economical and requires less time as well.

3d printed dentures

You can use 3d printed models as a replacement for a missing tooth. You can also use 3d printed crown for your broken tooth. 3d printed teeth can be customized to look exactly natural. It takes a very short period to make a tooth replacement with a 3d printer.

The surprisingly low cost and ability to modify the teeth is a great advantage. If the printed tooth doesn’t fit properly, you can adjust the design file and reprint it instantly. And, 3d printers support biocompatible materials, meaning that these are perfectly safe to use.

 

Surgical Planning

Proper surgical planning is crucial as surgery operations can be lethal if anything goes wrong. Adequate study of the patient’s condition beforehand can significantly reduce the risks.

No two patients are the same. So, planning surgery based on a common model is not practical. But making a personalized model was very costly once. It is no longer an issue due to 3d printing. Doctors nowadays started using 3d printing models for surgical planning.

Operating on 3d Printed Surgical Model

This technology especially benefits radiologists and surgeons. They can get a better visualization of a problem from a 3d printed model. It helps them to deal with complex medical conditions and abnormalities. Doctors can pre-plan or simulate the surgery before they carry out the actual operation.

Medical students are also benefitting from 3d printed organ models. They can examine the models for better understanding and carry out test surgeries on them. This experience will help when they become doctors and deal with actual patients.

 

Bioprinting

A tissue is a collection of similar cells and their extracellular matrix that carries out a specific task in the human body. Our organs are mainly functional groups of different tissues.

Bioprinting is 3d printing technology that uses living cells to construct live tissues. The science behind this process is known as tissue engineering. It is still a new concept, and a lot more research is needed to mature this technology.

3d Printing Biomaterials

However, it is already showing a lot of promises. Researchers have successfully created living tissues on a small scale with bioprinters. You can run Drug trials on these 3d printed tissues instead of using live humans or animals as test subjects.

In the future, it might become possible to 3d print functional organs. It could eliminate the need for organ donations. Bioprinters can use biomaterials to create a lot of other things too. Some of the astonishing discoveries include 3d printed,

  • Blood Vessels
  • Bones
  • Heart Valve
  • Human Ears
  • Synthetic Skin
  • Organs, etc.

 

Finger Splints

People used to order finger splints from overseas at a high price as only a few countries could make these splints. Not everyone was able to afford that high price. But because of 3D printing technology, many countries can now produce these finger splints, and even developing countries can also order these splints at a relatively low price.

What’s more exciting is that you can make simple things like finger splints right at your home now. You can make one using any low-end home 3d printers. And if you are using ABS plastic for finger splints, it may only cost you less than 1 dollar.

3d Printed Finger Splints

 

Plaster Casts

If you ever had a broken limb, then you probably had to go through some annoying experience. What if you could create a personalized cast for yourself that you can take off anytime you want? There is some good news for you as you can create such casts with a 3d printer.

3d Printed alternative to plaster cast

3d medical printer allows you to create completely personalized casts that are fitting, breathable, and you can remove them whenever you want. So, you can say goodbye to the days of wrapping your gypsum plaster before you can take a bath.

However, 3d printed medical cast are nothing new. We were already acquainted with this idea years ago. So, how come doctors still working with traditional gypsum plasters? The main reason is the initial preparation needed before you can start printing a cast. We are hopeful that more research and cooperation of medicals and manufacturing companies can bridge this gap.

 

Drug

Yes, it is possible to 3d print drugs right at your home! Some companies have already released 3d printed drugs in the market. You can create drugs of exact doses and perfect shape with a 3d printer. It will allow you to personalize your drugs to be more effective against your illness.

3d Printing drug

In the future, we may see people buying digital prescriptions and the main ingredients for a drug instead of the drug itself. The 3d printers will contain chemicals needed for making a drug. You will be able to create drugs of a specific dose according to your need. It will be possible to modify the composition as well to allow easier absorption of drugs.

 

Regulatory Measures

Most of the 3d printing medical applications are still at a developmental stage. There are risks associated with the use of any new technology. So, more research and experimentation is essential before 3d printed medical supplies become widely adopted.

And, it is still uncertain how general people will react to such technology. There are also concerns regarding the misuse of 3d printing technology too. The regulatory authorities must introduce some guidelines regarding quality control and safe use of 3d printed medical goods.

 

Are you looking for a qualified supplier for the production of medical devices? Then Sunrise Metal can help. We are a China manufacturing company with vast experience in medical device casting and prototyping. You can contact us if you are interested in our services.

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