In the recent past, various industries have begun to utilize 3D printing technology, also known as additive manufacturing, in order to cut costs and boost efficiency. The health care industry is no exception to this on going acceptance of additive manufacturing, with 3D printing offering great potential in the near future. According to analytic experts, the technology can greatly reduce health care costs while also enabling patients to receive fully customized medicines, transplants and more.
The 3D printing process builds an object from a 3D CAD model by printing very fine, accurate layers up until the final object is produced. Not only does this process conserve material, time and money, but it also enables health care professional to tailor items to each patients specific needs – something never thought to be affordable (or even imaginable).
Some applications of 3D printing in the health care industry include:
- Prosthetics: 3D printed prosthetic limbs have already dramatically changed many peoples lives for the better. Doctors now have the ability to 3D print prosthetics which are fully customized to meet each patients specific needs. Patients can also receive custom prosthetic attachments for various activities such as athletics.
- Custom Casts: 3D printed casts are revolutionizing the healing of bones with the capability to be custom tailored for each patients. These tailor-made casts have been found to actually enable bones to heal over 40 percent faster than traditional casts allow.
- Skin & Tissues: Many surgeons are already 3D printing skin grafts directly onto wounds such as a burn. Medical researchers have also developed the ability to create tissues with material that is woven together that can actually serve as blood vessels.
- Drugs: Scientists have discovered that they can actually 3D print pills in the exact dosage a patient requires. Patients will soon never have to break a pill in half or take multiple pills in order to get the correct dosage their doctor has told them to take
- Bones: Various individuals across the world have already experienced this amazing 3D printing innovations. Surgeons can now actually use 3D printed bones for various operations, such as a hip replacement. In recent news, a women in India actually received a hip replacement with a completely 3D printed hip. Doctors were able to model the hip off of the lady’s healthy hip and produce an incredibly accurate part that has enable her legs to once again function normally, without pain.
There are various other uses of 3D printing technology in the medical world, that are continuously being developed further. The benefits additive manufacturing offers to to health care are already changing lives across the globe and still have massive potential still to be unlocked. As the technology is driven forward, the medical industry will, without doubt, find even more advances that will benefit lives worldwide.