As 3D printing technology continues to advance, applications can be as far reaching as in healthcare industry to develop medical devices that are anatomically accurate and biocompatible. With the capability to 3D print patient-specific models, more accurate preparation and planning can take place, leading towards a more effective and economically beneficial product,
Although exciting and promising technology, the mass production or common commercial use of 3D printing in medicine is not yet practical. In fact, it is quite expensive and confined to research labs only.
But, developing tools that physicians require for examining and operating on the human body. Medical diagnostic tools like fetoscope and tools like umbilical clamps and splints are some of the cheaper realistic alternatives of 3D printing applications in the healthcare industry today.
However, these developments in the 3D printing will have a significant impact in the resource-poor countries only if they have made 3D printing as the innovation platform for promoting and distributing manufacturing systems, but with using localized and customized production and supply chain.
Only with creativity and clever design, 3D printing has enormous potential to benefit the developing world. For example, 3D printing may radically improve access to quality maternal care and neonatal care.
The core advantages of using 3D printing in healthcare include:
- Ability for low volume production
- Faster and more responsive production than traditional methods
- Simplification and shortening of manufacturing supply chains
- Democratization of production
- Ability to optimize and personalize a design