3D printing technology: Boon to Medical field
3D printing has many applications in a variety of industries. However, medical 3D printing which was a dream has turned into reality. Nowadays, 3D printing technology has changed the way doctors and surgeons plan procedures. Rapid production has enabled pharmaceutical and medical companies to create more specific implants. Additive manufacturing for the medical field is still under progress, but it is already applied in many different ways showing optimal results. As the medical industry is about patient-specific treatment and creating implants and models, the traditional method is time-consuming. 3D printing is the best fit as it can create patient-specific implants in less time and in a cost-effective way enabling more ways to save patient’s lives.
The advancement in additive technology has led to multiple applications in the medical field and had successfully saved many lives.
1. Affordable prosthetics and implants
Every year thousands of people lose their limbs but cannot get access to prostheses to recover. As prostheses are available in a few sizes it becomes hard to find one with the perfect fit. 3D printing technology is always used to make custom products but never thought it can be used for reconstruction. One size doesn’t fit all that’s why additive manufacturing is used to make custom parts for each patient. It is common for amputees to wait weeks or months to receive their prosthetics through the traditional method. Things become complicated due to the lack of manufacturing of custom parts. However, 3D printing speeds up the process, and products are created at a much cheaper price. The 3D printed products offer the same functionality to the patients as traditional prosthetics do.
2. Artificial organs and tissues
The use of additive manufacturing processes to deposit materials known as bioinks to create tissue life structures that can be used is referred to as 3D bioprinting. Tissue engineering refers to grow replacement tissues and organs in the laboratory for use in treating injury and diseases. 3D printing has brought new possibilities to tissue engineering.
3D printing is proven capable of producing synthetic blood vessels by recreating the precise shape, size, and geometries of the vessel. Due to this functionality, the 3D printed solutions are proved relevant to the patient’s need. Soon, building fully functional 3D-printed organs would be done with a laboratory printer. With this, 3D printing technology has really empowered the healthcare profession by allowing physicians to deliver new and improved treatment.
Dental 3D printing is gaining popularity and is expected to capture the market by the end of 2025. With ease in creating products, the application across different dental procedures is increasing. Dental implants need to be patient-specific, there’s so one size that fits all. When it comes to dentures or braces patients often need multiple iterations for the same mouthpiece. With quick and cheap production 3D printing is the ideal fit for the dental industry. The lengthy process is skipped as a 3D digital impression is taken with an intra-oral scanner which renders teeth and gums and creates a digital file. With this method, the device can be printed with few minutes.
4.Improved surgical tools
It is very well known that medical equipment is expensive. Thus, 3D printing medical tools used before surgery could save a vast amount of money. With 3D printing there is always room for improvement, new materials and devices are constantly developed. It has become easy to try new things at a lower cost and in less time. This is how additive manufacturing is helping to find new medical solutions.
5.Training for a complicated procedure
As 3D printing is becoming common day by day doctors and patients are benefitted because of this process. Earlier, by using CT scans doctors used to get visualization and they used to try some simulations to train before surgery. But additive manufacturing has made it possible to create real anatomical models. Surgeons are using CT scans to create 3D models and print them in order to train on the real replica of the body part of the patient. This gives an upper hand to the doctors and surgeons as they can understand the problem in a better way and try to solve it in the most efficient way.
Thanks to the process, that surgeons are able to reduce the surgery time as they know how to proceed. Due to the replica of the body part patients can also understand what the problem is and how doctors will tackle it. Besides this, it can also be used to train students.
Here are a couple of success stories about how lives were saved with the help of 3D printing technology.
Stratasys 3D printed models helped separate co-joined twins
One-year-old co-joined twins at the head were separated by a medical team at Soroka University Medical Center in Israel. Cojoined twins are extremely rare, occurring at a rate of 1 in 2.5 million births. It took a year for the doctors to plan the surgery. The doctors have planned the process using Virtual Reality and 3D-printed anatomical models. The models were then used to simulate the operation, so surgeons could visualize how the actual separation would be performed. The 3D models allowed them to discern blood vessels from the dura tissue, skull, and skin, just like in the actual procedure.
The surgery was extremely delicate, as bleeding from major blood vessels in the baby’s head could have caused a catastrophic result. However, the surgeons said they were confident as they had rehearsed using 3D printed models and VR. After the massive 12 hrs operation, the twins were separated.
3D model of brain saves woman’s life
Doctors successfully saved the life of a 60-year-old woman who suffered a cerebral aneurysm, using a custom 3D printed model of the patient’s brain with dilated arteries to plan the complex surgery. The patient had a severe cerebrovascular disorder. Due to the complexity and rarity of the patient’s case a 3D model was created to understand the problem. After studying, the model a six-hour successful surgery was conducted. The doctor stated the importance of 3D printing in the medical field saying, “The surgery would have taken longer without the 3D model. The risk would be higher because of the limited understanding of the abnormality.
3D printing applications in medicine will continue to advance and improve people’s quality of life. We are confident that, in the end, 3D printers will play an important role in medical processes. Are you interested to get a project done with us? Get on a 15 min free call with our experts to suggest a more economical solution for your existing system or upload your 3D file on our online 3D printing service.