Summary: 5 Major Medical Applications of 3D Printing
3D printing first appeared in 1980, but it is only now that the technology has become economical enough to be used in the home. Whether you are a hobbyist or an artist looking to do something fun in your spare time, 3D printing is a manufacturing technology that you can experiment with at home. The technology also has many medical applications, including prosthetics and implants to dental braces, surgical guides and more, and Antarctic Bear lists some of the most promising uses of 3D printing in medicine today.
Implants are the most important use case for 3D printing technology. 3D printing has been used to create custom implants for a variety of medical conditions, such as knee replacements, dental implants, and even breast reconstruction. These implants are typically made of 3D printed clear resin, so they can be easily molded to fit the exact shape of a patient's body. They also offer greater flexibility than traditional metal or ceramic implants, providing a better fit and movement within the body.
3D printing technology could also help children and adolescents by creating individualized treatment plans for children with scoliosis (curvature of the spine), allowing doctors to quickly create orthoses that fit the body perfectly, so they don't need invasive surgery or braces as adults.
In addition, researchers are investigating how 3D printers can be used for organ printing or to print limbs for amputees from soft materials such as silicone or rubber, which have more comfortable features than traditional prosthetics and can even allow the wearer to perform a full range of motion at all times without any external support, such as crutches or a wheelchair.
2. Prosthetic limbs
The WHO estimates that more than 30 million people need prosthetic devices, but most developing countries do not have adequate medical care. 3D printing can solve this problem. One of the most typical medical applications of 3D printing is the manufacture of prosthetic limbs. The technology is used to create prosthetic limbs for children who are born with a congenital disability or who have lost one or more limbs in an accident.
Prosthetic limbs are usually made of silicone and other materials that can be molded. But because they need to fit perfectly, each new mold must be customized when it needs to be replaced. This process can take weeks or even months and is costly.
3D printing offers an alternative solution, making custom parts (of the same material as Lego blocks) directly from polymeric materials such as ABS plastic. To make such a part, you first design it on your computer; then you send the file to your printer and its supply of raw materials, which may include several different plastics, if needed. The 3D printer is then used to 3D print the manufacturing for the user.
3. Surgical models
3D printing has become a staple of medical applications. one of the most common uses of 3D printing is to create models of organs and tissues for surgical simulation, training and testing equipment. These medical models can be made from many different materials, including clay or wax, but as technology has advanced and become more economical, researchers have been able to print 3D replicas using digital data from a patient's CT scan or MRI images.
These replicas are often used by students learning how to perform surgery to practice before performing surgery on real patients. However, they are also useful in surgery itself: doctors can use these models as a visual aid when planning and performing surgery so that their team members know exactly what needs to be done when working inside the body.
There is another major benefit. These replicas can help doctors test new drugs or devices before using them in real bodies, as it allows them to observe how something will affect different parts of the body without having to actually do so (which can lead to unnecessary injuries).
3D printing technology can also be used to make more customizable and cheaper devices. Using 3D printing, you can make devices specifically for patients, whereas traditional manufacturing means making millions of identical devices that may or may not meet your needs. Using this technology, instruments can be made that are more accurate than traditional manufacturing methods because they are designed specifically for the need, and they also tend to be more durable than other devices that are less customized in the manufacturing process.
Another benefit of custom-manufactured medical devices is their flexibility. With 3D printing, you can use materials such as rubber or plastic, which allow your devices to bend better than metal devices. It makes them ideal for handling soft tissue without causing too much damage to it.
Pharmaceuticals are one of the most important applications for 3D printing today. Pharmaceutical companies have been using the technology to create more effective drugs that are cheaper than traditional drugs. The process involves creating a three-dimensional model of a drug's molecular structure and then creating it in plastic or other materials through a 3D printer.
This process is much less expensive than spending on mass production, and it also produces less waste because each dose is customized for you. The technology allows pharmacists to create individualized medications based on their needs and requirements. When they create pills or tablets from plastic pellets or powders using standard manufacturing techniques such as injection molding or extrusion processes, they are unable to do so without first changing their chemical composition to make customization possible.
3D printing technology has changed the way patients are treated. With this technology, doctors can better diagnose and treat patients with personalized medical models of body parts and organs. 3D printing also makes it possible to create surgical guides for use during surgery and medical implants that perfectly match the patient's anatomy. At the same time, the possibilities for using 3D printing in regenerative medicine are endless.