How 3D Printing Is Changing Medicine Field – A Quick Look

The 3D printing industry is booming and in 2014 alone, the industry grew by 35.2%. In 2015, the industry was a slight down, but then the introduction of some innovative products especially in the medicine field streamlined things. Cost of 3D printing reduced and the technology became more accessible. Today you can buy 3d printed jewelry, shoes, vehicles, etc.

Medical 3D Printing

Some ways in which 3D has brought some changes to the medicine field:

When medical technologies introduce in the market, then these are quite expensive but with quality 3D printed solutions, these come at a reasonable cost now. For example, now experts have developed 3D printed skin which is useful for the victims who are burnt, Secondly, they developed airway splints for babies who suffer from a disease named tracheobronchomalacia. This is a disease in which the airway around the lungs of the baby is reduced in size and because of this, lungs can collapse. The airway splints designed using a 3D printer is significant and these are the first implants designed for kids which will grow as the patient’s age.

In April, 2015 this medical implant was tested on three patients from three months old to sixteen months old. The medical team at the University of Michigan’s C. S. conducted the operation in Mott Children’s hospital.   The cost of the splint is $10 per unit and these can be produced easily within few hours.

Secondly, to insert and expand the pen sized stent in the aorta of someone surgeon Jason Chuen (Director at the Austin Health of Vascular surgery)  explains that the 3D printer and brightly colored aortas made of plastic are modeled from real patients and printed with the help of x rays, ultrasound and CT scan. These are at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne. Using these 3D printed models Dr. Chuen can assess that the stent is of right size and it can bend in an accurate way while deploying.


The top 5 areas where 3D printing is set to change the medicine are:


  • Tissue engineering and bioprinting: As per Dr. Chuen he is convinced that with the help of 3D print it will be easy to 3D print the human tissue structures so basic functions of the organs can be performed and the need of transplant will be eliminated. Presently, the scientists are using the technology on a tiny scale to mimic the organs which can be used for research purposes. These are built using stem cells to improve the functioning of the organs like kidney or liver, however the challenge is to improve the working of the failing organ in the body. It is because the initial cells will die before the organ is completed.


  • Pharmacology: People who are suffering from endless ailments like the elderly people who depend on many pills in a day, need a good solution. So, if one pill is able to replace ten pills prescribed by the doctor then the world of customized medicines will be opened up to people and it is possible with the help of 3D printing as per doctor Chuen. In the present scenario for patients who are suffering from hypertension and diabetes can benefit with a polypill made using the 3D printing technology which is designed containing 3 pills. Imagine a patient getting digital file with printed instructions instead of a prescription.


  • Surgical rehearsal: With 3D printed models a surgery can be completed quickly which will result in less trauma for the patients. As per Dr. Chuen to run an operation theatre the cost is $2000 per hour. Mr. Chen and Dr. Coles Black have started to print the copies of patient’s kidneys so it can help the surgeons in Austin to remove kidney tumors. An expensive flexible material can help to build such plastic models in a more realistic manner. The cost is for the 3D printer and the software to translate the scan in files.


There are some other areas of medicine as well where the use of 3D printed models is quite beneficial and in the near future the technology will be adopted on a wider scale. It is a revolutionary technology which can make medical care more proper and better.

If you can imagine, you can print, so exploring and experimenting for the medical professionals is necessary to gain maximum from 3D printing for it will be helpful to the human race in the long run.

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