There are many industries benefitting from utilising 3D printing, but it is the medical sector more than ever that is continuously finding new applications for this innovative tech. With the pressure to quickly find faster and more cost-effective means of saving lives as well as improving the quality of life, 3D printing is the new, logical solution for the medical sector.
As with any industry, cost is everything. Few industries understand that better than those in the medical field. 3D printing provides a viable solution for many cost issues faced by the industry as it is best suited to producing high quality components in low quantities which reduces expenditure drastically. Plus, unlike other systems, it does not require expensive or specialised equipment to be used. It is a system which only uses the exact amount of material needed to create the final product – making it both cost effective and environmentally friendly.
The medical field often requires the creation of complex, customisable components, especially when it comes to prosthetics and bone implants. Each must fit perfectly to the individual patient and 3D printing can facilitate this. Unlike traditional manufacturing where all components are identical as a ‘one size fits all’, 3D printing allows for individualisation. This improves the quality of the components and most importantly, the effectiveness.
You may have the medical facilities to create components in house. Or you may have to outsource it. Regardless, both options are costly and take large amounts of time to complete. The beauty of 3D printing is that designs can be physicalised and assessed by the relevant medical professional – within a matter of hours. Any alterations can easily be implemented within a matter of hours and be ready to print directly at the patient’s facility.
When it comes to creating products for the medical industry, the number one priority must always be the health and safety of the patient. 3D printing is arguably one of the best methods of producing components which adhere to these standards. This is due to the capacity to use a wide range of sterile materials that are ready for immediate use. Many components also need to be accurate to the last millimetre. Precise computer designed elements, printed using a 3D scanner, are therefore an obvious choice for many healthcare professionals. The accuracy provided by 3D scanners and printing ensures that each product is always up to standard. Furthermore, each piece is safe to use both internally and externally on patients during medical procedures.
With the cost of healthcare putting a strain on the NHS year after year, it is evident that systems such as 3D printing will begin to play a vital role in the medical industry in order to sustain quality and effective healthcare. 3D printing and scanners are effective in saving time and most importantly saving lives. It is safe to say that as more industry professionals experience the benefits of this tech, it will soon become an integral part of medical processes and procedures.
Picture: Tilly Lockey, who lost both hands to meningitis as a baby, shows off her custom-built 3D printed prosthetic hand.