How Medical Industry Is Evolving With 3D Printing?

The medical industry has been evolving with the advancement in technology and facilities. You can now get artificial legs, organs, and necessary implants installed without a single worry! Recently the importance of 3D Printing is being tremendously recognized in the medical industry. The medical industry needs to evolve rapidly with the augmentation of medical devices so that more lives can be saved and this is what is being realized with 3D Printing.

With 3D Printing, you can create various surgical cutting equipment, prosthetics, and replicas of organs and human bones. A large number of cranial, or knee or spinal implants that adhere to Food and Drug Administration are being built by 3D Printing. It is quite amazing to know that 3D Printing has been used in generating 100,000 hip cups i.e., acetabular implants till now from which nearly 50,000 have been instilled into patients. Thus, it can be understood that, 3D Printing allows you to create customized medical devices that are essential for the medical industry. Let us see how 3D Printing can be useful in the medical industry.

3D Printing addressing the needs of the medical industry:

  • Tailored parts

3D Printing helps you to produce customized prosthetic and orthotic medical devices that are customized to an individual’s (patient’s) anatomy, thereby reducing the dependency on standard implants sizes and shapes, which may not be a perfect fit for every patient.

  • Creating complex organic shapes

With conventional manufacturing processes, creating complex organic structures was really hard. Thanks to 3D Printing technology, the scope to produce such organic shapes is quite huge. A large number of narrow scaffolds can be conveniently manufactured that adhere to an individual’s bone contour or the absorbent metal structures. Be it facial bones or ulna, you can specifically design and manufacture the parts that were not possible with traditional manufacturing.

  • Decreased lead time

It is for sure that any medical part created in-house or outsourced from elsewhere will involve high lead-time and increased costs. With 3D Printing, this issue is easily averted because it has the capability to manufacture and iterate faster. This will help the designers and engineers to create designs quickly and generate realistic prototypes thus decreasing the time to market. Within a few hours, you can redesign a particular medical component that is based upon a surgeon’s feedback. He can then make use of it to generate a new prototype print for testing. During the process of completion of the final design, earlier 3D Printed medical components can be used to reinforce clinical trials.

  • Reduced expenses

3D Printing is associated with low volume production implying that while the effectiveness escalates, the cost is highly reduced. This means of production is highly specific and is thus devoid of any costly tools or machining activities. The 3D Printing technologies use only the actual amount of material needed, thereby diminishing the chances of wastes and decreasing the associated material costs. Additionally, you have the opportunity to create complex, tailored parts through this technology at a decreased cost.

  • Creating prints of varied materials

Some of the 3D Printing technologies have the capability to generate a single component out of multiple materials. This can be done in Polyjet technology through a combination of Ultra Detail Plastic material and Tango-Elastic material in 3D Printing. We can now create educational models which exhibit different body parts such as bones, organs etc. that can create a better comprehension of the patient’s body structure. It can be used in surgery or for educational uses.

3D Printing In Medical Industry
Image Source: Stratasys Direct

  • Sterilized parts

The medical devices used in the medical industry should have be sterilizable. Some of the materials and the sterilization techniques associated with them are mentioned below.

  1. ABS M30i and PC-ISO materials used in FDM technology in 3D Printing are sterilized against Gamma irradiation and ethylene oxide.
  2. PPSF, PA12 (nylon), and 17-4PH materials used in FDM, SLS, and SLM/DMLS 3D Printing technologies can be sterilized against Steam Autoclave, gas plasma, gamma irradiation, ethylene oxide, and chemical applications.
  3. Ultem material makes use of FDM technology and is sterilized against Steam Autoclave.
  • Generating data

With the help of patient’s scans in the form of Computerized Tomography (CT), laser scanning, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), one can create customized parts by reforming the scans into 3D files. These files consist of encryptions of the patient’s skeletal and therapeutic features that can be further created with 3D printers.

Now let us understand the applications of 3D Printing technology in various sectors of the medical industry.

Applications in Medical industries:

  • Superior implants

It is now possible to produce surgical implants from 3D Printing that have fine lattice and excellent mesh features on their surface. It helps increase osseointegration and decreases rejection chances. The biocompatible materials like titanium and cobalt-chrome alloys can be effectively used in maxillofacial, i.e., jaw and face surgery and orthopaedic applications. 3D Printing helps in generating an excellent surface structure that increases the survival chances of the implant by double the amount as in the conventional techniques. The effectiveness of the 3D printed parts along with their ability to be easily customized and the convenience in producing them with conventional medical materials has made 3D printed implants quite a buzz in the 3D Printing-incorporated-medical industry.

  • Surgical educational tools

The anatomical replicas of the implants and essential medical devices used by the patients are used in the form of animal models and mannequins in education, device evaluation, and clinical learning purposes. The models generated by 3D Printing help the physicians in gathering the scan data to increase the analysis of illness, effectuate remedy structures and practice various effective surgical activities in the face of realistic treatments. With these models, the physicians can comprehend patient anatomy that can be hard to picture without the use of any obtrusive methods. The medical components can also be properly sized according to the produced models.

These 3D Printing facilities can be availed at a minimal cost where surgeons practice the methods and devise their functioning on cost-effective mannequins that are instilled with patient-centric 3D Printing models.

  • Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are some of the efficient outcomes of 3D Printing technology that have helped the world witness huge development. With more than 97% of the total hearing aids produced by 3D Printing technology, larger than 10,000,000 people make use of these medical devices.

  • Surgical example and essential tools

With 3D Printing technology, physicians can produce guides that study the exclusive anatomy of the patient while properly positioning the drills and other equipment during surgery. The guides and essential tools offered by 3D Printing technology help in accurately locating the curative treatments such as implants and screws, thus aiding in improving the postoperative outcomes.

  • Prosthetics

Prosthetics are usually customized products wherein specific items are personalized according to the customer. 3D Printing helps in producing patient-centric prosthetics that can perfectly synch with the user’s anatomical structure. Various complicated structures can be generated from a variety of materials with 3D Printing and this is the very reason it has found wide application in prosthetics that can be used or worn daily by the patients. Starting from prosthetic legs to facial prosthetics that are tailored to the user’s needs, everything is possible with 3D Printing technology.

Various 3D printed prosthetics can be conveniently printed on desktop printers as well, thus availing you a cost-effective prosthetic.

To conclude, 3D Printing technology helps you create personalized items that are available at a cost-effective budget. When one can get a limb or a face created within a matter of days which is additionally curated to your requirements, you can easily comprehend the convenience achieved in creating medical devices that can help transform the medical industry magnificently with the help of 3D Printing.

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