The rapid advancements in the 3D printing technology have enabled medical device manufacturers and healthcare organizations to significantly upgrade their capabilities.
FREMONT, CA: 3D printing technology is steadily gaining importance in the healthcare sector. Widely known as additive manufacturing (AM), the process involves the production of three-dimensional material and objects using a digital file. The printing device layers successive images or files one on top of the other until a solid 3D object is formed. It enables designers to build 3D models of patients’ anatomy for diagnosis and surgical planning.
The transformative technology has revolutionized medical practice, leading to improved healthcare processes and operations. It has enabled the customization of orthopedic implants, prosthetics, hearing aids, dental implants, and wearables. The rapid advancements in the AM sector will likely pave the way for the development of bioprint technology, which will enable doctors to print replacements organs and produce skin cells to heal wounds and injuries.
There are over a hundred 3D printed medical devices in the market, including the latest addition, a robust titanium spinal implant. The global AM market reached $7.3 billion in the year 2017, hitting a compound annual growth rate of 21 percent, of which 11 percent was in medical and dental technologies. The medical device market is expected to touch $1.88 billion by the year 2022.
The rapid growth has spurred medical device manufacturers to invest in 3D printing technology and enhance their manufacturing capabilities. They are expecting the technology to become a core part of their business within the next decade. Hospitals are leveraging 3D models to plan surgeries, which has led to significant reductions in operating room time for patients.
Along with printing models for diagnosis and pre-surgical planning, the technology is used for device development and prototyping as well. A rising number of medical device manufacturers are incorporating 3D printing for long-term growth, leveraging it in research, technology development, marketing, and education.
3D technology facilitates the rapid creation of prototype devices, tools, and anatomy-based models for testing and training. Scientists and engineers can now create 3D models in hours and days rather than taking months with the conventional approach. It also enables the design and development of complex anatomical models. Although several environmental concerns are impeding the implementation of 3D technology, its foothold in the medical device sector remains firm as ever.
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