3D Printing in the Medical Industry
Searching for the best 3D printing experts in the medical industry? Here at Alexander Daniels Global, we can help. This article looks to highlight how additive manufacturing works in tandem with medicine, including how it benefits the medical industry, whilst focusing on how to easily recruit the best 3D printing candidates for your medical 3D printing team.
How is 3D printing used by the medical industry?
Additive manufacturing can be used in a number of ways to support the medical industry – however, most of its usage derives from its capability to create prosthetics, patient-specific replicas of organs, bones and blood vessels, as well as developing new surgical cutting and drilling guides. This, in turn, leads to speeding up surgical procedures by producing more cost-effective versions of tools, and increasing quality of life for patients requiring prosthetic limbs.
Forecasts suggest that 3D printing in the medical market will be worth $3.5bn by 2025, which would be a 17% increase from 2017. This is projected through the success of the main four uses of additive manufacturing:
- Bioprinting tissues and organoids – this uses a computer-guided pipette to layer living cells on top of another to create artificial living tissue. For example, US-based medical laboratory and research company Organovo is experimenting with printing liver and intestinal tissue to help with the study of organs in vitro, as well as with drug development for certain diseases.
- Surgical instruments – for example, scalpel handles, clamps, and forceps can all be produced using 3D printing technology, which leads to significantly lower production costs.
- Surgery preparation – this refers to creating patient-specific organ replicas that surgeons can practice on to sharpen their skillset as doctors.
- Prosthetics – amputees can often wait months for prosthetics, but 3D printing significantly speeds up wait times and renders the process more cost effective.
A History of Medical 3d printing
Additive manufacturing was first used in medicine for custom prosthetics and dental implants in the 1990s, as in 1988, 3D printing technology was made available to the public. The medical industry became one of the first early adopters of this technology – naturally as it offered many benefits and paved the way for medical innovation.
By 2008, scientists had been able to produce the first 3D printed prosthetic leg which was created and customized for use by a patient. The tech has since led to further medical applications, such as the first 3D printed jaw in 2012, and not to mention the story that originally inspired Alexander Daniels Global founder, Nick Pearce, to break into the 3D Printing industry – the story of Stephen Power, a father and barman whose face was left severely disfigured following a motorcycle accident in 2014; doctors were successfully able to reconstruct his face using 3D printing to replace portions of his skull and cheekbone structure.
In short, the medical industry has benefitted extremely from 3D printing, with the medical fields that have been revolutionized the most including:
- General Surgery
- Stem Cell Research
Benefits of 3D Printing in the medical industry
The many uses for 3D technology in the medical industry, naturally lead to a number of benefits for both patients and doctors, administration staff controlling budgets and waiting times also benefit. Taking a closer look at some of these examples:
- Reduces waiting times – as it’s possible to 3D print medical and lab equipment, this can dramatically reduce times spent waiting for medical devices from external suppliers.
- Reduces cost – as well as reducing waiting times, 3D printing makes medical equipment more readily available for low-income areas, and poverty-stricken, or war-torn countries, where low-cost prosthetics can be delivered.
- Lighter and stronger – this new technology has led to create lighter, stronger and safer products to be used on patients, contributing to reduced lead times and lower costs.
- Training – future doctors and medical staff can use 3D printed organs to practice medicine – which is much more accurate than practicing on animal organs. This then, in turn, increases the quality of skills doctors can obtain during their training for more complex operations.
- Prosthetics – additive manufacturing gives people the freedom to create bespoke and customized prosthetics, for example, in terms of size, color, and design.
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