Health and medical field benefit from 3D printing
The business of 3D printing or addictive manufacturing is navigating the manufacturing industry into the future. The technology has provoked a big impact on the health and medical field as scientists use the 3-D printing technology to create innovative materials designed not only to change, but in some cases sustain life for the patients of today and tomorrow.
Medical research labs have been experimenting and testing 3-D printing since the 1990′s, and although the technology has been slow to be accepted by physicians, the growth of global addictive manufacturing for medical devices has gained momentum at a fast pace. The recent market research reports, “Global Additive Manufacturing Market” (2012 – 2017) published by MarketsandMarkets, shows the global market made $1,843.2 million in 2012 and is expected to reach over $3 million by 2017.
Although surgical equipment claims a large share in this market customized implants and prosthesis are starting to make an impact of patients lives. As early as June of 2011, the first case of a patient receiving a 3-D printed complete lower jaw was reported. Maikel Beerens, founder of Xilloc Medical, developed a method for designing and manufacturing preoperative patients-specific implants, for which, Xilloc Medical won the Shell LiveWIRE award 2011.
This technology has led the Connecticut-based Oxford Performance Materials to replace bone and insert the material into an American patient’s skull in March of this year using 3-D printing. The hope is that in 5 to 10 years, surgeons and physicians will not only accept 3D printing and the technology ease of its usage, but become more involved in partnership with the medical device companies so that devices and implants can be fine-tuned to doctor and patient needs.
Today 3D printing is used by medical engineers, biologists, surgeons and chemists to fashion artificial ears, that look and behave like real ears, create materials with several properties of living tissue, and carry on with an ongoing project of creating spinal disc. With the continuing development of 3-D body parts, body cells, muscle cells, nervous system cells and cartridge the complications of surgery and transplants could be eliminated and not only will more patients lives be saved, but their chances of living longer will greatly increase.