3D Printing and Medical Sector: How have things changed in the healthcare front?Ken Lambert (SEO)
With each passing year, 3D printing is offering more and more benefits to the healthcare front. The medical sector is becoming more accessible and less expensive, thanks to 3D printing! However, most people believe 3D printing has only brought engineering changes, mechanical parts, and designing prototypes. Little do they know that 3D printing filament can now be used to create machines used in hospitals and even for printing organs. Yes, you’ve read that, right!
Researchers were able to print a bladder successfully. Experts say that the day is not far away when essential organs could be printed using 3D printing in the field of medicine. Now the doctor could provide treatment to the patient in several ways. This guide is solely dedicated to informing people about the drastic changes that 3D printing has brought in the healthcare front.
The process to manufacture new tools usually take up a lot of time and money. No matter whether it’s outsourced or created in-house, the process will be time-consuming and costly. Such a long lead time will prove to be life-threatening during such critical situations. In healthcare, 3D printing provides engineers and designers with tools to iterate and make designs as quickly as possible.
Thanks to the accuracy of 3D printers! Now the tools’ custom parts can be easily designed and sent for printing within a couple of minutes. By following the surgeon’s direction, it’s possible to imitate a tool’s design within a couple of hours. Undoubtedly, 3D printed filament has accelerated the process of design development. Also, 3D printer parts can be used by manufacturers to support early commercialization or clinical trials while optimizing the final design. As compared to traditional methods, the time required to print parts is much lesser in 3D printing.
2. Customized Implants
Thousands of bony parts of a human body can now be replaced with 3D printed parts such as hips, spine, knees, ankles, and skull segments. Thousands of such parts are implanted each year, and the 3D printing promises to produce more and more printed parts or organs in the future. Even though the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t approve of it, some replacements have been taken under the FDA’s emergency clearance.
For instance, a tracheal splint was designed for an infant at the University of Michigan, who was suffering from a weak trachea that collapsed despite conventional treatment. Therefore, the bioengineering-surgical team used the CT scan to print a 3D splint to wrap the weakened trachea. Implants like these eventually get absorbed when the trachea repairs itself.
3. Affordable Prosthetics
In developing nations, the 3D printed prosthetics are often manufactured at very low-cost. People who had no hopes of receiving such devices are now leading their lives successfully with prosthetics made using the latest technologies. Organizations like Not Impossible and ROMP use 3D printing to develop high-quality, low-cost orthotic braces and prosthetic limbs for patients who didn’t have any hope of receiving such devices otherwise. However, it is now possible. Thanks to 3D printer filament!
E-Nable encourages everyone across the world, including engineers, to build arms and hands using designs made by E-Nable on their 3D printers during their leisure time. The organization’s estimation reveals that it has manufactured around 1,800 hands until now, mostly for kids. However, it believes that 1,800 more hands have been manufactured that falls out of their documented process.
4. Biomaterials for Complex Organs and Organ Structure
The emergence of 3D printing has proved to be a driving force for doctors or other medical staff to develop human organs using biomaterial. Suddenly, it seems like it’s no longer a dream, and organs can now actually be printed. Taking baby steps, the researchers began with the development of simple structures like cartilage, skin, bladder, blood vessels, cartilage, and parts of other complex organs, like heart valves. To be honest, the experts have made significant progress.
The real challenge in creating organs lies in printing blood vessels and printing organs together. Apart from that, one cannot ignore that an organ is not just tissue, but it might also be referred to as memory. Therefore, the heart doesn’t just have many cells; it also has tissues that support other tissues that lead to thousands of heartbeats.
5. 3D printing Labs
One of the immediate trends is using 3D printing in the hospitals directly. However, until a few years ago, only a few hospitals were doing 3D printing directly. Now, hospitals from all across the globe are establishing 3D printing labs to allow healthcare professionals to incorporate the use of 3D printing filament into a regular working day. Justin Ryan, a research scientist and biomedical engineer at Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s Cardiac 3D Print Lab, has produced 300 hearts or more during the last four years.
While operating on a complex organ, doctors usually practice customized, and 3D printed models to expect a promising surgery outcome. Practicing beforehand will make sure the surgery successfully gets over within much less time. Also, the rate of mortality and morbidity will be drastically be reduced.
Certainly, the future of medicine lies in the hands of 3D printing. The extensive use of 3D printing has also provided a boost to the market of 3D printed filament. In the healthcare front, medical experts use 3D printing to research and practice new procedures and treatment, provide patients with new prosthetics and organs, and hundreds of other applications. Recent developments in 3D printing for healthcare has provided us with stronger, safer, and lighter products, lower costs, and decreased lead times. Patients are provided with treatments or products that are specially designed to suit their anatomy. We are not much far away from the day when we could replace our original organs with 3D printed organs.
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