Additive manufacturing or also known as 3D printing is unique in the healthcare industry, as compared to other industries like automotive or aerospace. The reason is that of not only improving the quality of care but also by making it cost effective. According to Visiongain forecasts the overall market for 3D printing in the healthcare industry will expand rapidly from 2014 and will potentially reach $4043m in 2018.
To effectively create a strong synergy among computer-aided design, and 3D printing of medical devices with healthcare applications, it is important to balance the cost of delivery of the medical device and the effectiveness of the successful outcome in saving a life or improving the quality of care. To be successful in the optimum delivery of personalized medicine, patients will need unique devices that can be personalized, rapidly manufactured and easy to use all the time while addressing healthcare disparities in emerging countries.
One of the most important outcomes from the rapid growth of additive manufacture medical applications is changing the landscape in the supply chain of medical device manufacturing. People in countries with low resource settings have financial obstacles which make it difficult to get the optimum treatment. Now, with 3D printing technology, it is possible to help people to overcome these obstacles.
Innovation in development of 3D printing is changing the healthcare industry in the prosthetic sector.30 million people require prosthetics according to the World Health Organization in emerging and expanding countries. In the last couple of years, there has been a revolution in healthcare applications of 3D printing, with the rapid growth of low-cost 3D printers, functional prosthetic limbs can be designed and developed by using the most inexpensive consumer-grade printers. These can be used to create low-cost, high-tech prosthetic limbs with controllable fingers, helping to restore independence to amputees in emerging countries with high incidence war-related injuries.
The important result of the 3D printing industry is using the technology to take care of people who could not afford the treatment, improving the outcomes and increasing the cost-effectiveness by personalized design and development of prosthetic limbs. The rapid growth of applications in healthcare is very high because 3D printing allows increasing customization of human body parts as there's nothing that requires more personalization as needed in replacement of any human body part.
The optimum growth for 3D printing technology can be maximized in low resource countries, wherein there is lack of coordinated supply chain distribution of simple medical tools which helps healthcare workers to diagnose and effectively manage common health ailments. In addition, there are still numerous applications that could be harnessed that may positively affect millions of lives in emerging countries like the manufacture of cost-effective basic medical supplies, such as small splints and clamps. But, to reach its full potential there should be further reductions in the cost of 3D printers, then the availability and opportunities of 3D printing in healthcare could increase. The framework for building evidence for effectiveness, appropriateness, and feasibility of 3D printed medical applications that can be established is also yet clear in the present settings.
Only when there is synergy between the manufacturers of 3D printers, the raw materials used in 3D printing and the healthcare professionals, can 3D printing technology provide a cost-effective personalized medicine tool.