Medical device 3D printing presents an important development in the healthcare sector. It accords medical manufacturers more options in their production methods, enabling them to create custom parts faster and with greater accuracy, among other benefits: this article covers all that you need to know when it comes to 3D printing medical devices.
What is 3D Printing in Medicine?
3D printing in medicine involves using 3D printing technology to make healthcare products. This includes implants, prosthetics and orthotics, surgical instruments, and many other medical devices. The use of 3D printing for medical purposes offers several benefits. We will discuss these later. For now, here’s a brief overview of what this technology entails.
3D Printing Medical Technology
So, how does medical 3D printing work? This is what usually happens: A design expert, while using a special type of software, creates a representation of the desired product. This digital model is then sent to the 3D printer, but in a file format that the printer can read.
A medical device 3D printer is just a normal 3D printing machine, but often designed to produce medical or healthcare parts. It may also use different printing methods, depending on the type of part required or the material used.
How can 3D Printing be used in the Medical Field?
A medical 3D printer has many different applications in the healthcare industry. You can, for instance, use it to make the following parts: implants, prosthetics, orthotics, hearing aids and even surgical instruments. The list goes on and on.
3D printing has also successfully been used for tissue engineering. This is where doctors produce tissue (or even organs) with the help of 3D printer machines.
It’s also common for medical 3D printing companies to use the technology to make prototypes and molds or fixtures, thus reducing development costs and streamlining product testing.
Why is 3D Printing Important in Medicine?
Medical device 3D printing enables faster and more accurate production, but there are also other benefits as well. It makes creating intricate geometries, for example, a much easier task than when using most other means.
Plus, with many medical devices requiring customized production, printing them shortens the steps to make them. That’s because you get to print parts directly from a digital file, or quickly produce a prototype for testing.
3D Printed Medical Devices
The applications of 3D printing in healthcare are very wide and greatly varied. They include anything from tiny parts such as 3D-printed stents to large-scale printed prosthetics. The list below is a collection of nine most common examples of devices that are being produced using a 3D printer.
A prosthetic is a custom-made device that replaces a missing part of human body. This is usually printed in a variety of materials and other features. One of the main benefits of 3D printed prosthetic limbs is that they’re generally easier to customize. Examples of these types of parts include a 3D prosthetic leg, 3D prosthetic arm, and others.
A 3D printed cast can be quickly produced, given that it gets printed directly from a digital file. The technology also allows designers to highly customize these medical devices. In order to make them breathable and comfortable, these casts are often made with opening and soft materials.
Medical device 3D printing also involves the production of orthotics. These custom-made pieces help to correct skeletal and muscular deformities in a person’s body. They can be tailored specifically for each patient and are often created using 3D printing technology.
These are small, personalized devices that amplify sound and make it easier for people with hearing impairments to hear clearly. Printing them enables the hearing aid to be tailored exactly to the patient’s ear shape and size. What’s more, though, is that design and production of 3D printed hearing aids can take place quickly, accelerating the delivery healthcare services.
Surgical instruments can benefit from 3D printing medical technology. Manufacturers are using it to make them lighter and more ergonomic, while also allowing for increased precision in their design. The technology is also being used to make molds for surgical instrument manufacturing, as well as prototypes before production runs can begin.
3D printed dental implants are designed to replace missing teeth and can be made using various methods. Printing is a quick method to produce them, with their design and manufacture only taking a day or two. Additionally, 3D printed teeth implants allow for greater customization features, and can be made in various sizes to fit the patient’s mouth.
Medical device 3D printing can be used to produce ventilators, which are devices that supply air to patients with breathing difficulties. These can also be printed in various sizes and shapes, depending on the patient’s needs. Using innovative materials, these parts are also being produced lighter and more usable, among other benefits.
3D printed wheelchairs are also a reality today. These medical devices are commonly used mobility aid, but they can be difficult to customize for individual patients. 3D printing makes the process easier, enabling the production of the device’s parts quickly and in strict accordance with the user’s needs.
Used as visualization tools, medical models are used to study human anatomy and simulate surgical procedures. 3D printed medical models are easy to produce and more accurate, especially where complex models are required. Plus, given the material options to create them, they can be made in a more durable and realistic option.
Medical device 3D printing is quickly changing the way we make patient-specific medical devices. In addition to allowing for more customization, the technology also reduces the time it takes to produce these items, enabling quicker treatments and delivery of services. That also makes it possible for medical providers to provide more personal care and better outcomes for their patients.