3 Ways that 3D Printing is Changing the Healthcare Industry

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Just like in other industries, 3D printing is revolutionizing the healthcare industry. Expensive items can now be made cheaper. Implants and devices are being made quicker and with better precision. Let’s take a look at three examples of how 3D printing is revolutionizing the healthcare industry.

  1. Prosthetics

It is typical for a patient to wait weeks or months to receive a needed prosthetic through the conventional route. 3D printing speeds up this process tremendously at a cheaper cost. The cheaper cost is particularly significant for children since they can quickly outgrow their prosthetics.

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Currently, 3D printing is being used to make hands, arms, feet, and legs. Traditionally, a prosthetic hand could cost thousands of dollars. A 3D printer can make one for as little as $50 dollars. Software programs are being developed to make prosthetics more customized for the user. Kids can also have prosthetics made to fit their personality rather than just be functional.

  1. Surgical Instruments

Forceps, hemostats, scalpel handles and clamps used for surgery can be produced with 3D printers. The cost savings with using a 3D printer versus the traditional manufacturing process is significant.

Another great advantage of 3D printing is that the instruments can be procedure and patient specific. If the surgeon is implanting a device into the patient, the 3D printing process can create tools specific to that device design. Also, tools can be made to match the size of the patient which avoids unnecessary tearing of tissue.

  1. Medical Implants and Surgical Models

The precision of 3D printing allows for a more custom fit of an implant for a patient. The area of the body to be replaced, such as the knee or jaw, is scanned into the printing software. An exact replica is then designed and printed. For a surgeon, 3D printing provides an anatomical 3D model that can be held in the hand. A scan is made of the particular structure to be operated on. The printer makes an exact model that the surgeon can study and use for practice. Therefore, the surgeon is better informed and can be more precise in the surgery.