3D printing has spread at breakneck speed in medicine. Dental crowns, hearing aids, and surgical instruments have been successfully manufactured with 3D printers in medical services. Even today, sometimes 3D printing is also used for the production of tablets. Medical 3D printing or the use of 3D printers supports medicine in two ways: On one hand, it enables surgeons to create precisely fitting implants. On the other hand, doctors and surgeons can practice preparation for the operation on 3D-printed models and thus gain a better understanding of the planned operation.
Today, this so-called bio printing or 3D printing is viewed as a separate area and enables medicine to further improve treatment options with the support of additive manufacturing. Therefore, we have listed here some of the 3D printing medical innovation cases to show the current level of 3D printing in the medical field.
In the past year, numerous cases of neurosurgical procedures have been published in the media thanks to the models of patients made on 3D printers, manufactured from imaging tests, such as computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. The image exam files are reconstructed in 3D and sent to a 3D printer. From a full-scale replica of the patient, the surgeon can plan and simulate the surgical procedure on the model, before the intervention. Among the benefits, the emphasis is placed on the safety of the doctor, in addition to a relative decrease in the time of surgery, thereby reducing the patient’s anesthesia time. It is also worth mentioning the reduction in all costs involved in the procedures, such as time in the operating room, time in the ICU, hospitalization, post-surgery, etc.
Digitizing the dental sector
Did you know that when you go to the dentist to take an impression of your teeth, he then has to keep the mold? If we also take into account the discomfort and the unpleasant taste of the material used in these cases, 3D printing appears as a relevant solution for the orthodontic sector. With a 3D scan, dentists can 3D print plaster models, position devices, or aligners without disturbing their patients. Also, they can de-materialize their work and save time on the creation of molds.
In the beginning, 3D printers were simply used to create components used for the later stages of restoration. Now, their use is expanding further and could make it possible to directly create finished products.
3D printed prostheses
For a person who needs a printed prosthesis, measurements are taken photographs, and the part of the body that the prosthesis will cover is scanned. This information is digitized and taken to a 3D modeling software, within which the part to be printed will be developed and then printed. The printing time is determined by the size of the part.
One of its advantages is that this type of 3D prosthesis can be made with a large number of materials that range from the most flexible to the most rigid. 3D prostheses allow a certain degree of movement, being fully functional and usable. They are cheaper and more accessible pieces compared to traditional prostheses.
Today, 3D bio printing has become one of the fastest-growing fields in the entire 3D printing industry. Many organizations have predicted that its market will exceed $6 billion in 2024. Now, a research team from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh is using 3D printing to make bioactive brain tumors. The team will use stem cells from patients’ tumors as materials to print, to continue to study the growth process of tumors. They hope to use 3D printed tumors to test the efficacy of various new drugs to develop new tumor treatments.
Summarizing the above, it is safe to say that the advent of 3D printers has radically changed the direction of the development of medicine. Science fiction is becoming a reality in front of us and, undoubtedly, even more, incredible achievements in the field of application of additive technologies in the medical industry await us!