3D printing plays a very crucial role in the medical industry. 3D printers are commonly used to
produce various medical devices which can make the treatment fruitful. Some standard design is
printed to make more than one copy of the same. This technology helps in creating patients –
specific devices from a particular patient’s imagining data.
Healthcare industry has been a pioneer in establishing one of the most complex medical instruments that are designed in the most ergonomic way to save lives. When the question is about life and death, the industry has always been a prominent saviour for humankind through its modern life saving inventions. Whether it be a simple asthma inhaler to complex ventilators and surgical equipment, the medical sector is well known for its research and development.
The fact that the health sector takes more than 10% of most developed nations GDP summarises the importance of this industry. 3D printing technology has been a boon to this ever-growing industry due to its wide range of effective applications. 3D printing in healthcare has a lot of potential and is a sure way to provide the patients with new novel treatment methodologies. Safer products are now manufactured in less time using 3D printing technology in the healthcare industry.
3D printing technology is cost-efficient and can make personalized parts which suit that persons’ anatomy. It is now possible to produce customised products as per the patient’s requirement using 3D printing technology in a matter of a few hours which are safer as we can implement the use of biocompatible materials and composites.
Benefits of 3D Printing in The Healthcare Industry
Personalized flexible manufacturing: Each human is different in medical terms and requires personalized treatment plans that suit them the best. Moreover, they have different size requirements of prosthetic and orthotic devices which can be efficiently manufactured through 3D printers in less time. 3D printers can be provided with algorithms of patient specific anatomy making prosthetics production more accurate.
Reduces lead-time: Each second counts in the healthcare sector as life is governed by those fractions of seconds. Hence you cannot afford to take risks when it comes to providing medical equipment at the right place at the right time. 3D printers enable haste production with personalized requirements up to 100% accuracy. Moreover, due to rapid prototyping, multiple variants could be produced based on the feedback of the doctors and patients. The accelerated feedback mechanism also helps in clinical trials of novel discoveries.
Reduces material wastes: Medical wastes are hazardous and should be disposed off properly. In the conventional manufacturing process, there are various by-products of the final product which needs to be disposed of properly. 3D printing technology can help in prioritizing the final product and can reduce unnecessary by-products as material wastes. Also, many sterilizable products can be manufactured easily through 3D printing technology.
Complexities for safety: Medical instruments need to be made with fine precision to suit the route of administration for a human’s body. Our body is delicate and needs utmost precision instruments that are operated on us. 3D printings can assist in making complex geometrical models to help develop innovative and novel inventions.
Applications of 3D Printers in The Healthcare Industry
- Surgical tools & models: Healthcare professionals use various surgical tools and models to assist them in the surgical process. Machines can be made to follow accurate instructions and maybe more precise than manual hands. The surgical tools made from 3D printers are more accurate and are helpful in iterative processes.
- Huge library of biocompatible materials: The implants made need to be biocompatible with the human body so that our immune system does not reject that implant. The implant should be able to get in contact with the bloodstream and does not cause any side effects like blood clots or any thrombogenic reactions. 3D printing technology can use several durable polymer materials that are deemed to be biocompatible.
- Prosthetics and implants can now be customized as per actual body dimensions: A huge number of amputations are performed each year globally. Getting a replacement or any alterations in our body is a time consuming and expensive process. Prosthetics should be personalized to give the best experience to the users. 3D printers are capable of providing prosthetics with exact dimensions for different anatomical regions and at a low cost. The medical industry is already using 3D printing technology in devising personalized prosthetics equipment.
- Imparting medical education: Empowering our future generation is the least we can do to make this world a better place. 3D printing models of different anatomical parts can assist in providing valuable practical knowledge which is more necessary than theoretical knowledge in this field. 3D models are being refined to give more patient-friendly solutions to the upcoming students. There is a wide range of applications including diagnostics, surgical models and researching novel medical instruments.
- A great tool for researchers: Medical industry is a field which requires constant research and development. Many pharmaceutical giants pay hefty compensations to the researchers, and it’s completely worth that. For research purpose, it is necessary to get hold of the prototypes and do actual experiments with that. Then constantly modify it to make it better. 3D printers enable rapid prototyping to develop an early model and enhance it through regular experiments.