Is 3D Printing in Healthcare a Medical Revolution?

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Is 3D Printing in Healthcare a Medical Revolution?

Postby 3dtech » Fri Sep 14, 2018 12:22 am

3D Printing in Healthcare Means Comfortable, Cost-Effective Prostheses and Implants

3D printing in healthcare is already proving its worth in the prostheses and implants space, driven in part by a new collaboration between the Department of Veterans Affairs and Stratasys, the 3D printing and additive manufacturing company that produces Makerbot 3D printers.

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Per the agreement, Stratasys is equipping five VA hospitals in the U.S. with 3D printers, materials and training, with the aim to encourage development of “custom orthotics, prostheses, and anatomical models for personalized healthcare,” according to a press release. By enhancing access to 3D medical printing, the network is designed to have a positive impact on doctor preparedness, surgical collaboration and, in turn, patient care and more streamlined costs, HealthTech reports.

Moreover, 3D bone and organ printing can turn out to be significantly more cost effective.

“In the past, constructing a prosthetic to replace a missing hand could cost tens of thousands of dollars or more to the patients and healthcare system. With the advent of 3D printing, you can now print a prosthesis for a few hundred dollars,” says Louie.

This has a particularly poignant application for children with prostheses, who outgrow the prosthetic devices every few months.

The Future of 3D Medical Printing

Despite the headway that 3D printing has made in medicine, challenges remain.

“What’s at the crux of holding the spread of this technology back is the development of materials that can be deposited using 3D printing,” says Louie.

But with intense research and funding flowing into the space, it is likely that innovative products will come onto the scene with time.

“In particular, where we look at what’s going on in the implant space, the ability to infuse the 3D-printed medical device with drugs or other biological factors that may either reduce rejection or improve healing are likely to be the next innovations down the road,” says Louie.

Moreover, 3D-printed pills could potentially revolutionize the pharmaceutical sector by offering custom doses directly from the pharmacist, while 3D-printed skin could heal burns or wounds. And there’s likely use cases we haven’t even thought of yet.
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“The use of 3D printing is clearly in its infancy,” says Louie. “Healthcare has some clearly defined unmet needs and areas of improvement, but I think the uses will be much broader.”

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