Three-dimensional (3D) printing is one of the hottest topics in manufacturing and becoming more popular every day. And while you may not have heard of 3D printing, the odds are that you have used something made using this technology.
The most common application of 3D printing is creating prototypes for new products. But what about other uses? Is 3D printing just a fad, or will it become truly useful for businesses and consumers? Continue reading to find out.
The most common use of 3D printing is happening in the healthcare industry these days. 3D printing involves creating objects that are dimensionally solid and used, particularly in the healthcare industry. It is also known by the name of additive manufacturing.
Precedence Research estimated the market size of global 3D printing in healthcare to be $1.45 billion in 2021. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.54% from 2022 to 2030 and reach up to 6.21 billion.
Below are some major uses of 3D printing in the healthcare industry:
Surgical preparation is one of the most popular uses for 3D printing. Surgeons use surgical guides as a way to prepare for complex surgeries. They help reduce the risk of mistakes and ensure correct procedures. In addition, surgeons can use surgical guides to help patients understand what will happen during their surgery.
Although 3D printing is becoming popular in the healthcare industry, it remains a separate sector. It means that perfect 3D printing can be done only by professionals in that sector, not healthcare professionals. It involves the proper use of 3D print industrial parts and special skills. Hence it should be done by professionals to gain maximum benefits from it.
3D printing can be used to create a model of a patient’s anatomy to help with diagnosis and treatment. For example, 3D printing is often used to create models of organs that can be used for teaching or training purposes. These models can then be viewed by both doctors and patients alike. The latter may not have been able to see their anatomy otherwise due to privacy concerns.
A great example of this practice is the creation of 3D-printed models of tumors for use in cancer treatment planning. Tumor models are created using CT scans. Surgeons can use them during surgery to locate the tumor within the body.
3D printing has become an important tool for anatomical modeling used to study anatomy. Doctors can print 3D models in full color to study disease and injury in this use case. One of the benefits of using 3D printing technology for this purpose is that it allows users to create accurate reproductions of organs and tissues from any angle needed for teaching purposes.
It also allows users to view cross-sections or other details without having multiple medical models lying around on desks or being stored away somewhere where they may not easily be accessed by students who need them.
The orthopedics industry is implementing the 3D printing technique and gaining an advantage. The implants allow medical practitioners to prepare better, long-lasting, higher-performing implants. The implants include hip, spinal, skull, and knee implants. According to Verified Market Research, around 0.6 million implants were produced using 3D printing in 2019. It is estimated to be 4 million by 2027.
Medical Implants and 3D Printed Organs
3D printing is a great way to manufacture medical implants and prostheses. One can also use it to create surgical tools, medical devices, and printed human anatomy models.
The biggest advantage of 3D printing organs is that it allows doctors to customize them for each patient’s unique body type. It makes it possible to avoid donor organ rejection and disease transmission that comes with using donated organs from deceased donors.
Doctors can use a person’s cells or stem cells in organ printing, so the organ matches its DNA perfectly. It reduces complications later down the line when they are implanted into someone else’s body.
3D Digital Dentistry
3D printing can also be used in dentistry to create models of teeth, crowns and other dental implants, and even dentures. 3D digital dentistry is an emerging technology that has been around for over a decade.
According to Grand View Research, approximately 120 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. In addition, more than 36 million people in the US do not have teeth. These figures are expected to grow in the coming few years. 3D printers can produce accurate wax molds of patients’ mouths that dental professionals can use as they plan treatment options.
The ability of these printers to produce 3D models allows doctors to help their patients understand what the procedure will look like before any work begins.
3D printing is being used to create prosthetic limbs, such as hands and legs. While the technology is still improving, there are many different ways that this technology can be used to replace missing body parts.
Prosthetics can also be used for joints, bones, or organs with the help of 3D printing technology. It’s not just humans who benefit from these advances. Animals injured or born without certain body parts can also be fitted with prosthetic devices created by 3D printers.
Designing Medical Devices
3D printing is used to create medical devices to replace or repair damaged human body parts.
Medical devices are 3D printed for a variety of reasons. For example, when designing and manufacturing artificial joints, it is much cheaper and more effective to have the custom-made part printed rather than mass-produced in a factory. The same thing applies when it comes to prosthetic limbs. 3D printers can be used to make custom-fit prosthetics that perfectly fit each patient’s unique needs.
3D printing is infiltrating the healthcare industry. As a technology that is changing how things are done, it’s likely to become more and more common in this field. It’s hard to imagine that just ten years ago, 3D printing was only being used for prototyping or small-scale manufacturing purposes.
Today, it can be seen everywhere, from prosthetics to art projects and everything in between, with thousands of new applications popping up each year.
With over 100+ companies using 3D printing for medical use cases alone, there are opportunities for growth as doctors and patients embrace this technology.