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How is 3D Printing Used in the Medical Industry?

Professionals in the medical field are working directly with people. Their work affects families. As such, the medical field updates their methods and tactics to make procedures safer, diagnosis more accurate, and the patient’s recovery time faster. And to all this, any solution must be cost-effective so that hospitals, laboratories, and doctor’s offices with small budgets can adopt these technologies as well. 3D printing is a technology which the medical field is adopting to fulfill all these requirements.

What Are the Benefits of 3D Printing?

3D printing is cost-effective and fast which makes research and development, prototyping, and manufacturing more efficient. It is also an excellent solution for any business struggling to find a specific part and component. Specific parts and components have high cost and can be difficult to find if the supplier is no longer in business.

How Does 3D Printing Affect the Medical Field?

The medical field benefits from 3D printing specifically from a 3D printer’s ability to do both customization and mass production of medical devices. The medical field offers plenty of opportunities for customization because patients require 3d printed medical devices that are specific to them and their needs. The medical field also requires a high volume of similar items, which requires the ability of mass production. 3D printing can accommodate both customization and mass production. Medical professionals can use designs or models for 3D printed medical devices, and add differences to make each 3D printed part specific to each patient.

One example of an instrument which requires both mass production and customization are 3D printed hearing aides. Hearing aids are built of the same kinds of parts but require slight modifications to fit each patient well. A traditionally produced hearing aid has a long wait time and a higher cost. However, 3D printed hearing aids can be based on a general design, while still being slightly modified to suit each patient.

3D Printed PPE

Personal protective equipment, also known as PPE, is worn by medical and laboratory professionals to protect themselves from infection when they are treating patients. Examples of PPE include face masks, face shields, connectors, gowns, and goggles. The most popular forms of 3D printed PPE are face masks, face shields, and connectors.

The Sheriff’s office of Sweetwater County, WY recently purchased a Raise3D printer to produce 3D printed N-95 face masks for its employees and other emergency responders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

3D Printed Organs

Another use for 3D printing in the medical field is to create 3D printed organ replicas. A 3D printed organ replica is modeled after X-rays taken of a patient’s organ. Doctors have multiple uses for 3d printed organs. Primarily 3D printed organs allow surgeons to perform a surgical procedure on the 3D printed organ replica to identify any potential problems in surgery before operating on the patient. This lowers a patient’s risk and trauma during and after the surgery.

Since 3D printed organ replicas are modeled after a patient’s organ, it also gives the doctor an ability to examine the state of the organ. For example, a doctor can examine the 3d printed model of the organ to determine the size of a tumor on an organ. The 3D printed organ can also help a doctor identify any potential issues to better prepare and plan for surgery, especially complicated surgeries. In doing so, the patient will receive a more precise surgery with better recovery afterward.

Persona Surgery Modeling Co, Ltd uses digital models to produce 3D printed bone models for local hospitals. Before 3D printed models surgeons were expected to conduct intricate procedures based on rough plans and without being able to simulate the procedure in depth. During the surgery, doctors could only make decisions based on their intuition and experience.

3D printed models gave doctors an accurate, custom bone structure of their patients to practice complex procedures. The results of incorporating these models are a 95% successful implant fit and reduced surgery times by 25%-50%. To read about the Persona Surgery Modeling Co, Ltd’s success with industrial 3D printing, click here.

3D Printed Surgical Instruments

3D printed surgical instruments are easier to produce and more exact. 3D printing is especially helpful at producing small, specific instruments for delicate procedures. Small, accurate 3D printed surgical instruments prevent unnecessary damage to the patient during a procedure. By controlling the production of 3D printed surgical instruments, a hospital can also ensure that these 3D printed medical supplies are sterile.
Additionally, 3D printed surgical instruments have a lower cost of production.

3D Printed Prosthetics

3D printing prosthetics is fast and more cost-effective than prosthetics produced by traditional manufacturing. Since the traditional method of creating prosthetics requires hand-made parts and labors, it can be weeks before a prosthetic is ready for the patient. 3D printed prosthetics are faster and also custom-made to the individual for a better fit. The lower cost of production results in a final product priced at a lower point. This makes it easier to supply children with prosthetics as they grow. Just as a child outgrows a pair of shoes, a child will outgrow prosthetics. With the traditional manufacturing method, it is time-consuming and expensive to buy prosthetics for children. A 3D printed prosthetic is less expensive, faster to produce, and more accurate to the child’s limb.

HK Make Club produces 3D printed prosthetics. Traditionally manufactured prosthetics have long lead times, high costs, and are difficult to mass-produce with customizations to fit the patient. With Raise3D printers, HK Make Club can mass-produce custom parts, have a faster production time, and reduce production costs by over 90%. To learn more about their work, click here.

The medical field is in the unique position of being able to combine two benefits of 3D printing, customization, and mass production. This blend leads to several positive effects for medical professionals. Medical professionals have access to new resources and tools faster and cheaper than they did before. This leads to better and more accurate insights, which leads to safer procedures and easier recovery for a patient. If you would like to learn more about 3D printing in the medical industry, click here.

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