Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The future of 3D printing in medical devices

The adoption of 3D printing has accelerated over past years with a growth rate estimated between 30 to 50% year over year. And while medical is just one field 3D printing is making a splash in, the technique and machines allow companies the ability to build from idea, to product concept design, to a functional prototype much faster and more accurately then previous traditional prototyping methods.
In the medical industry, apart from the standard requirement for prototyping parts, devices or instruments, one firm is making big inroads and introduced a new 3D printer in the dental area. This will usher in a new option for the dental industry and may become the standard for prototyping and developing dental products and devices. The company is working with their suppliers for integral scanners which allow, in the dental world, for digital production of either crowns, bridges or veneers.

3D printing technology will also be used for surgical guides, which will reduce patient time in the seat and make the whole experience of getting dental surgery more pleasant. Not to mention it is expected to provide a cost-effective solution.
3D printer technology can take scan data or CT data from a head scan or MRI scan and flow that into a 1:1 model, a solid part or a visualized part of a patient, so that the surgeon can practice on the model with a high degree of confidence before they actually operate on the patient. This benefits a much higher success rate and much less time for the patient on the operating table.
The more biomaterials that can be 3D printed, the greater the scope for the industry.
But 3D printing is not alone. An Israeli startup (RealView) has developed a holographic technique that is extremely promising as one can record the image of a patient's beating heart, or other organ, and projects it as a 3D holographical color image showing the heartbeat or movements that let the surgeon play with the hologram until he’s fully mastered his gestures for the surgical intervention.
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