As 3D printing continues to make its way into
a variety of real-world applications, one sector is often in the spotlight:
Especially in times of public health concern,
medical care is a global priority. Improving healthcare is a
seven-plus-billion-person opportunity. But is it realistic to expect newfangled
technologies to actually make an impact?
Certain disadvantages are holding back 3D
printing in the medical field: let’s take a look at three of the biggest
3D printing is a relatively young technology,
around for decades, not centuries. Its lack of age-old existence may cause
mistrust or, worse, misunderstanding. What’s possible, what’s realistic, how
can we make it happen?
How do we find the answers to those questions?
The answer to that last is the same as any
other quest for knowledge: turn to the experts. While 3D printing may be pretty
new, expertise has grown along with the industry itself. In-depth research is
emerging all the time from prestigious universities and research hospitals to
examine and prove out realistic use and best-in-class solutions.
Experts in medical 3D printing include both healthcare professionals have been putting the technology to use to help patients and the technicians and operators syncing the technology to point-of-care needs. Service bureaus offer a helpful access point for those new to this area, as they have built up relationships with experts on both sides of this equation in addition to building in-house expertise and offering a variety of options.
Reading well-vetted sources in news and
research, as well as accessing service-driven organizations with experience in
new technologies, offers an important step in any process. Gaining background
and building up familiarity is necessary to bring on something new like 3D
printing. Understanding how it can be used today, and how applications may
build up in the future, is a critical first step.
Once you understand that 3D printing can be used in the medical field, a larger
question arises: should it?
Sometimes the answer is no. Increasingly,
though, healthcare providers are finding that, yes, there’s a place for 3D
printing in their medical toolbox.
But for what? A few of the areas gaining in
Patient-specific anatomical models
Patient-specific surgical guides
The underlying theme throughout each of these
areas is easy to see: patient-specific.
3D printing can create one-off items built to
specific dimensions, matching a patient’s exact anatomical structure. The