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How 3D Printing is a game-changer in the Medical Field

3 Mins read
Automotive air intake manifold
Air intake manifold/Source: WayKen

3D printing is one of several manufacturing processes that have a wide range of industrial applications. It is highly adaptable and customisable, which is an important feature in the medical field due to the uniqueness of each patient. Medical parts, component designers, and manufacturers can easily make parts that are quickly and accurately customised for an individual by utilising its flexibility. Aside from that, it does not generate a lot of waste, which lowers the cost of recycling, reusing, or disposing of waste.

For several part manufacturing niches, 3D printing has been a game-changing manufacturing process. However, due to the process and industry nature, the medical field has seen a significant increase in efficiency. On the one hand, 3D printing is primarily used with plastics. The medical field, on the other hand, relies heavily on medical plastics.

Reducing Costs Across All Areas of Medical Care

The medical field, like any other, will want to save time and money. Using 3D printing, it is possible to provide patients with more cost-effective implants, medical devices, and components. 3D printing has reduced the overall cost of medical care in a variety of ways.

One important way to cut costs is to shorten the time it takes for surgery. Traditionally, surgeons prepare for surgery by using 2D images obtained from X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans. This method is currently effective when performing surgical operations. They do, however, require the surgeon to have excellent visual skills. The high demand for surgeons’ visualisation skills can make surgery difficult, especially when working with complex parts of a patient, such as the face.

With the advent of 3D printing, it is now possible to create anatomical models of patients based on radiological images. As a result, the intense need for visualisation skills may diminish. It can also make it easier for the surgeon to practise and understand the anatomy of the patient. This will improve the success of the surgery, shorten the time required to complete it, and increase the number of surgeries performed. These 3D-printed anatomical models can also aid in the education of young surgeons. This is due to the fact that visual 3D models are easier to comprehend. Getting used to them will also help them prepare for a less stressful medical journey.

Another reason for the cost savings is that 3D printing is additive. As a result, medical part manufacturing does not generate a lot of waste. Furthermore, the low waste generation will lower the costs associated with recycling, reusing, or disposing of waste. 

Improving The Outlook for Organ Transplants

Medical device console for medical field
Medical device console/Source: WayKen

Many organ donors and recipients are familiar with the term “waiting list.” There is currently a scarcity of organs and organ donors. As a result, today’s medical field has a long waiting list, fewer organs, and fewer successful organ transplants.

Because of the low success rate of 3D printed organs, perfecting them is a long way off. For example, there has only been one successful 3D-printed organ transplant (a bio-printed bladder transplant for a patient with bladder issues).

Furthermore, anatomical models of organs to be transplanted can be created to better understand their structure and anatomy, increasing the transplant’s success.

Using this example and the amount of research that is currently being conducted in the medical field, 3D printing can be an important component of organ transplants. 

Addressing the high demand for medical supplies

Improving the efficiency of surgical procedures also necessitates the use of appropriate medical equipment and devices. Furthermore, most medical parts are complex and require customization based on patients, processes, and surgeons. Because of the high demand for customization, 3D printing has emerged as a viable method for producing medical supplies.

The ease of customization will boost the functional component of the manufacturing process. Furthermore, the process allows for the testing of medical parts for compatibility. This is superior to other manufacturing processes. A CNC prototype, for example, will take longer than a 3D prototype. Furthermore, 3D printing has a quick manufacturing time and is ideal for printing medical devices and components like retractors, medical clamps, and needle drivers.

Prosthetics is one of the medical fields where 3D printing has played an important role in meeting the high demand. Amputees now have easier access to prosthetics thanks to advancements in manufacturing. Using the method, plastic (and some metals) prosthetics can be created in about 24 hours. Furthermore, because prosthetics are colour and style customizable, 3D printing allows for dexterity.

Latex body parts are another medical application for 3D printing. Despite the fact that these are non-functional parts, they have been shown to improve patients’ self-esteem and overall mental well-being.

Conclusion

Manifold
Manifold/Source: WayKen

3D printing has made inroads into several areas of medicine, including part manufacturing, surgical procedure improvement, and so on. Aside from its current applications, the process has also been proposed as a potential solution to organ transplants, a difficult aspect of the medical field. Currently, researchers are looking into ways to unlock the use of the manufacturing process and apply it to bettering the medical field as a whole.

3D printing is ideal for manufacturing and prototyping complex products, making it indispensable in the medical field. The medical field, like many others, has seen a game changer as a result of the process. This article went into great detail about how 3D printing changed the game in the medical field, why the process is important, and what the future holds for the process.


About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D printing. which publishes the latest 3D printing news, insights and analysis from all around the world. Visit our 3D Printing Education page to read more such informative articles. To stay up-to-date about the latest happenings in the 3D printing world, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Manufactur3D is an Indian Online 3D Printing Media Platform that reports on the latest news, insights and analysis from the Indian and the Global 3D Printing Industry.
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