3D Printing: Breaking New Barriers in World Medicine

3D printing is revolutionizing so many sectors – here, we take a look at the huge changes being brought globally by 3D technology in the field of medicine, where computer-generated design is resulting in 3D objects that are really changing lives at the front line of medicine, to the extent that healthcare is the field set to drive the huge growth of 3D printing technology going forwards.

  • FDA-Approved 3D Printed Polymer Skull Implants

In the Netherlands, surgeons have already been able to replace the entire top section of a patient’s skull using a customized printed polymer implant; similar replacement cranium parts have also been employed in other countries, with FDA approval.

  • Medical Equipment 3D Printed in Developing Countries

3D printing is being used to manufacture expensive or otherwise unavailable essential medical equipment in the developing world – in Haiti, for example, umbilical chord clamps are already being 3D printed for hospitals. In fact, 3D printing’s finest moment could be in significantly reducing health inequalities worldwide.

  • Workable Blood Vessels

Did you know that even blood vessels can be 3D printed? Researchers at Harvard University designed a 3D printer that uses dissolving ink to create tissue with skin cells interwoven with structural material that can potentially function as blood vessels.

  • Inexpensive Prosthetics: Life-Changing Advances Thanks to 3D Technology

Making prosthetics is notoriously expensive and time-consuming, with the added difficulty that any required modifications to the prosthetic render the original molds useless. But researchers in Toronto have now used 3D printing technology to produce inexpensive and customizable prosthetic sockets for patients in Uganda and other countries in the developing world. Meanwhile, a California-based R&D company has used 3D printers in Sudan, training local people to operate the equipment then create and fit inexpensive prosthetics.

  • 3D Printed Spinal Discs and Ears

Researchers at Cornell University have 3D printed intervertebral discs used in the treatment of patients with major spinal complications, having already created ear molds using 3D photos of real ears, which held the shape of the ear while cells grew their extra-cellular matrix. Meanwhile, a team at Princeton have 3D printed a collagen ear with built-in electronic components.

  • Meds via Blueprint: The Future of Drug Distribution?

In the field of drug distribution, University of Glasgow researchers are working on a 3D printer that will be able to assemble chemical compounds at the molecular level, allowing patients to buy a blueprint and chemical ink online and then print the drug at home.

In the USA, the epilepsy drug Spritam became the world’s first FDA-approved 3D-printed pill, notable also for its alternate layers of powder and liquid giving it a very fast dissolution rate which was unattainable through conventional manufacturing.

At Nottingham University, meanwhile, researchers have been able to 3D-print one ‘polypill’ containing five different drugs.

Blueprints or apps could now be the future of drug distribution, with pharmacies becoming 3D printing medicine hubs.

Manchester Metrology is a market leader in the inspection of engineered components, offering metrology support throughout the UK and worldwide for both indoor and outdoor 3D measurements. Manchester Metrology offers laser scanner equipment hire, stocking a wide range of calibrated measurement equipment.

In addition, Manchester Metrology also has a vast range of probes, mounting options and accessories for your metrology equipment and offers both onsite and offsite training on a variety of the latest software such as CAM2, Measure 10, Polyworks, Geomagic, Aberlink, Declam and PowerInspect.

Manchester Metrology’s Snapmaker has a 3-in-1 software which allows your stunning creation to be just a few clicks away. Helps entry level users to complete the work quickly. The Snapmaker updates regularly with new features to enable users have great experience on using it. See it in action here.

For more information please call us on 0161 637 8744.