3D printing is a process that creates a three-dimensional object by building successive layers of raw material, with each new layer being attached to the previous one until the object is deemed complete. These kinds of objects can be produced from a digital 3D file, such as a computer-aided design (CAD) drawing or a Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI).

 

Medical 3D Printing Will Open Doors to a New Kind of Future.

Constructing hum3D Printing_Medical Devicesan tissue in a laboratory, implanting it in a patient and watching it grow into the body can soon no longer be a subject of science fiction books. Tissue engineering – as it has become to be called – is only one among countless new opportunities 3D printing can offer. Medical 3D printing is a potentially revolutionary industry encompassing not only hearing aids and envisaging brace – but much more.

 

Wheels are Already Turning

In 2013, surgeons at the University of Michigan operated an only 3-month-old child who had been born with severely weak tissue in his airway. They designed, 3D printed and surgically implanted a scaffold-like tube to hold his airway open. With time, as the baby grows, the scaffold will dissolve harmlessly.

This operation was the ultimate proof: 3D printing and a 3D-printed medical device had saved a life – and will most certainly to it again in the future.

Can you 3D-Print Organs, too?

According to Dr Scott Hollister from the University of Michigan, tissue engineering is at present used primarily in reconstructing severely damaged bone and tissue structures. “3D printed organs probably won’t be possible in the next half-century” – he adds. A full human organ – printed and grown in a lab – remains too complex, a holy grail, a distant hope for millions of people…

So, What’s Now?

For now, most researchers and surgeons prefer to focus their efforts on what is achievable in the near future. Limb prosthetics and implants are what counts now. That may be why IDTechEx, a research firm, expects the 3D bioprinting market to reach $6 billion by 2024.[1]

 

And is your company ready for this revolution?[2]

 

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-mellgard/medical-3d-printing-future_b_7088994.html [retrieved: 21/02/2017]

[2] Please note that medical 3D printing in the US is regulated by FDA’s Centre for Devices and Radiological Health, Centre for Biologics Evaluation and Research and Centre for Drug Evaluation and Research.