A glimpse into the future of 3D printed medical devices
The past few years have revealed what to expect from 3D printed medical devices. From 3D printed hearing aids to surgical tools such as forceps and retractors, the world of three-dimensional printing in healthcare continues to change. Thanks to technology, everything from body organs to implants can be 3D printed.
More recently, the introduction of 3D printed dental implants and a surgical camera in live surgery, which could affect the future of medicine. With the emergence of new medical tools and gadgets, 3D printing is becoming more accessible and cheaper.
However, beyond current innovation, what more can we expect from 3D printing in the healthcare sector? This article answers that question.
3D printed medical devices: then and now
Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, has its roots in the 1980s. The first documented 3D iteration to replace missing or non-functioning human parts could be traced to Japan when Hideo Kodama attempted a fast prototype. Although he was unable to patent the innovation, he is often considered the first inventor of the additive manufacturing system.
Years later, three French developers sought to upgrade the rapid prototyping system. Like Hideo, they could not patent the initiative. In the same year, Charles Hull became the first developer to hold a patent for building a system for creating 3D models.
Since the innovation, several companies and startups have experimented with additive technology. In 2016, the first SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) printer was released with commercial success. CAD (computer aided design) tools have also become generally available.
When the first prosthetic leg was printed in 2016, fiction became reality and the medical world finally found a breakthrough in the face of the growing demand for organs and implants.
Today, 3D printers are readily available and the prices are at an all time high. This ubiquity has allowed everyone to develop different materials for 3D printing. According to a study, 80% of high-tech manufacturers rely on 3D printing for product prototyping.
Features and Benefits of Modern 3D Printing
Scientists and writers have been playing with the benefits and features of 3D printing for many years. In the final scene of “The Empire Strikes Back,” the fourth episode of the Star Wars series released in 1980, Luke Skywalker received a prosthetic hand from a droid. While it was fictitious, the world of medicine has indeed realized such a fantasy: 3D printed hand prostheses.
The advantages and features of modern 3D printing include:
- Fast prototype
3D printing speeds up the additive manufacturing prototyping process. Today, prototypes of organs and implants can be printed in just a few hours. Speed ââis the reason 3D printing is more preferred over machine prototyping. In addition to the speed, it is also very profitable.
- Design flexibility
The materials used for 3D printing have evolved. Medical tools and devices can be 3D printed using steel, acid, titanium, and even chocolate. Material variations made the design flexible. In addition, there is no restriction on 3D printing compared to traditional printing.
- Waste minimization
3D printing reduces wasted resources. The production of printed matter only requires the materials necessary for the production part. Instead of relying on pieces of recycled material, 3D printing only uses what the part needs.
- Access facility
3D printing is accessible to everyone. The development of new 3D printers offers everyone the opportunity to learn and benefit from innovation. Thanks to favorable government initiatives, you can get a printer and start using it without any restrictions.
While you would need a pass to access 3D printers in the past, today all you need is the will to get one. Printers can be purchased anywhere and anywhere, ensuring their profitability.
Future Trends of 3D Printing in Healthcare
The future of 3D printing can be imagined through trends. These healthcare trends encompass organs, implants, prostheses, surgical instruments and other medical devices for the technological future of surgery in the operating room. Here’s a quick look at how 3D printing is a game-changer in medicine.
- Organs and implants
Hundreds of people in the United States are on the waiting list for organs and implants. These are people who are looking for donors for a replacement of vital organs. However, this trend is about to change with 3D printing. Scientists work tirelessly to create 3D-printed kidneys, lungs, and other organs faster and more efficiently.
- Surgical instruments
The average price to get a set of surgical instruments is around $ 3,000 (around Â£ 2,200), which is quite expensive. With 3D printing, surgical instruments have become more improved and cost effective. Scientists can modify any medical equipment and even print complex ones.
- Prostheses and medical devices
Why waste time and resources creating prostheses and medical devices? Because of its rapid prototyping, 3D printing can modify any prosthetic design that might be suitable for humans. In the future, no one would need to depend on donors to get personalized prosthetics and devices that work for them.
The idea of ââ3D printing is old and dates back to the Japanese Hideo Kodama. The innovation started with an iteration for the replacement of human parts. After the development of the first SLS printer, 3D printing became cost effective, easily accessible, fast, flexible and minimizing waste.
Capitalizing on massive modern improvement, 3D printing is poised to replace organs and implants in no time. It also guarantees faster and more efficient alternatives for surgical instruments, prostheses and other medical devices. There is no doubt that 3D printing is a game-changer in medicine.
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