Is 3D print a breakthrough in medicine? When will we print organs or use exoskeletons?
There is much talk about how 3D printing is a breakthrough in many aspects of our lives. Hopes are high when it comes to medicine. If you can print needles and clothes, why shouldn’t you be able to print prototypes of organs or bones? In fact, 3D printing is already a breakthrough and the futures is looking promising.
3D printing debuted in medicine in 1999, in the times of Windows 98 and monochrome display mobile phones. That’s when a patient had his bladder enlarged with the help of a 3D printed skeleton. Nowadays, 3D printing is used in medicine at various stages, from teaching future doctors through dentistry all the way up to complex surgeries. Many people dream of a more widespread use of 3D printing in transplantology.
Aesthetic medicine and prosthetics
3D printing is currently widely and successfully used wherever natural body parts may be substituted with artificial ones. It has already been used in jaw and skull reconstruction as well as for creating prostheses. This technology allows for the creation of solutions tailored to the individual needs of the patient.
Thanks to 3D printing you can also quickly and efficiently re-create a damaged bone and make its prosthesis. Obviously, these are still not natural or fully organic elements, but such prostheses are successfully implemented and let patients live relatively comfortable lives. Besides that, they are comparatively cheap.
A 3D model, or preparing for surgery
Using 3D printing in preparations for surgeries is an equally large breakthrough. This technology allows for creating of precise models of organs, which in turn makes it possible to practice certain stages of the procedure, eliminate dangers and better predict certain outcomes. This is how doctors practice before complex surgeries, such as separating conjoined twins or cardiovascular surgeries. Technology lets doctors map the patient precisely beforehand and transfer that data into a 3D model. This accelerates the surgery itself and reduces risk of complications. Without 3D printing, at best doctors would have simulations at their disposal.
3D printing technology makes creating breakthrough solutions much easier. Without it, prototyping and experimenting with inventions was expensive and uncommon. Now you can easily create what you need and try it out. This has already happened in Poland, where experienced doctors and engineers of Zortrax created a vein winch. This unique device made removing varicose veins in legs significantly easier and reduced risk of complications.
Before the Zortrax 3D printer created the first winch, doctors had to manually remove the laser fiber from the vein. This required incredible precision and moving the fiber at an optimal pace. The winch assures stable movement at a constant speed. The Zortrax M200 printer is used to create the shell of the winch and the majority of its components.
Transplantology and further use of 3D printing
3D printing in medicine is a breakthrough. Thanks to 3D printers it’s possible to optimize surgeries and bring about better fitting and relatively cheap prostheses as well as tools which assist in medical procedures. But this isn’t the end. Doctors, scientists and experts in the field of 3D printing are still working on new solutions.
It is already possible to fuse the patient’s tissue with synthetic materials and print certain organs. However, these are still experiments, but advanced ones. This is where the world of science and medicine is heading. It’s likely that very soon new breakthroughs in this field will be made.