April 2019

3D Printing in Medicine – The future is here

The world of healthcare has been at the forefront of innovative technology for years now, especially when it comes to 3D printing. The growth of additive manufacturing has opened up a huge number of doors to the industry, all of which present a range of benefits to medical science and the public. New technology means it’s now possible, and almost easy, to offer customised health care solutions — which has come as a relief to medical practitioners and patients alike.

So, we thought we’d take a closer look at the various areas of the healthcare sector that are benefiting and advancing thanks to the magic of 3D printing.

Surgery

One aspect of medicine that 3D printing has helped revolutionise is surgery. Technology is now being used to replicate organs that can be practised on by surgeons to prepare before embarking on a live operation. Doctors used to have to settle for X-rays, CT scans and MRIs to prepare for surgery, 3D printing allows surgeons the ability to properly prepare for a complex operation, examining from multiple angles and increasing the chances of success.

Prosthesis

3D printing in medicine is dramatically helping in the development of prosthetic limbs. Traditionally, manufactured prostheses were not only a very expensive option but also often an extremely uncomfortable experience for an amputee. 3D printing is being used as a solution to attempt to fix these issues. The ultimate goal? To design comfortable prostheses that suit a patient’s individual needs and are reasonably priced. Great work has been done in providing 3D printed prostheses to war refugees and many others injured byu natural disasters.

Tissues and Organs

In a move that could have come straight out of a futuristic Hollywood movie, tissues and organs can now be 3D printed. This is particularly exciting and applicable for the field of transplants, solving any moral and ethical issues linked to the more traditional methods. 3D printing has helped increase the chances of an organ being accepted by the body. Skin tissue repair and reconstruction, limb replacement, kidney transplant, and heart transplant, among others, have been successfully trialled with 3D printing.

Medical Tools

Following the inception of metal 3D printing, the majority of surgical tools and medical devices can now be created using the technology. Some of the main surgical tools being 3D printed are forceps, haemostats, scalpel handles and clamps, as well as other sterile tools. 3D printing produces these tools in a more sterile form, with stainless steel tool equivalents costing 10 times as much. 3D printing also allows replacement tools to be created much quicker.

See why we were approached to help to bring innovative medical tools to life through 3D printing methods.

Pharmacology

3D printing in medicine has the potential to make pharmacology and drug administration much simpler than before. An obvious solution for patients with a range of issues is made possible with a 3D printed pill that houses multiple drugs at once, each with a different release time. An example concept called ‘Polypill’ has been tested for diabetic patients. The application deals with the dosage while also solving issues of diverse drug interaction. For the patient, it eliminates exhaustive monitoring of drug intake when their medications have different schedules.

To find out more about our work within the medical industry, click here.

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