3D printers in medicine in the service of humanity
3D printers such as Zortrax M200 and M300 already have many applications, such as engineering, robotics, as well as medicine. They already help treat illnesses and change human life for the better. Soon, 3D printing will become even more widespread in this field. Even now experiments on 3D models let researchers make breakthroughs regarding heart transplants.
Prosthesis out of a 3D printer
One of the most common and most obvious uses of 3D printers in medicine is prosthetics. 3D printing technology makes it possible to create individualized prostheses. Ordinary prostheses of hands, feet or entire limbs made to suit the users needs are very expensive. Thanks to 3D printing it’s possible one of a kind items can be created quickly and relatively cheaply. The cost of a hand prosthesis from an open source project is roughly 50 dollars, whereas a professional prosthesis can cost up to 40 thousand dollars.
3D printing in medicine is not a new phenomenon. It was used for the first time in 1999. For many years its main application was making prototypes of organs to be used during surgeries. It is also used in dentistry for making dentures, there are also experiments being conducted with 3D printed tooth implants.
Medical tools out of a 3D printer: Zortrax brings about a revolution in varicose vein treatment
In 2015 Zortrax engineer Robert Klaczyński in cooperation with Dr Marcin Feliga developed a vein winch. This device significantly assists physicians in the endovascular surgical removal of varicose veins in patients’ legs. Thanks to the winch the procedure is largely facilitated and the risk of complications is reduced.
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. This makes it easy to sterilize. The device is inexpensive, and Zortrax is currently applying for a patent.
Artificial hearts out of a 3D printer
The greatest hopes related to 3D printing in the field of medicine are related to transplantology. Scientists around the world are working to create an artificial heart with a 3D printer. Select elements could be manufactured on a 3D printer and subsequently merged with the patient’s own tissue.
As a result the artificial heart is expected to be much better suited to the patient and to be accepted by his or her body. At the moment, however, these are just experiments conducted by scientists. Biologists and physicians are constantly experimenting with 3D printing of various materials, including organic ones, and combining them with human tissue.
Example of medical vinch designed with Zortrax printer:
Such experiments are also conducted in Poland with the Zortrax M200 printers. Scientists at the Military University of Technology in Warsaw and the Silesian University of Technology are conducting advanced research with a model of an artificial heart. The hematic chamber and pneumatic chamber were created exclusively with 3D printing technology. The membrane set is made of silicone and rubber casts. Such a model enables very precise measurements of the functioning of the heart and artificial neural networks.
Without 3D printers this work would be either impossible or prohibitively expensive. Due to the affordable price of the Zortrax M200, its precision and high quality of prints scientists can create models themselves, quickly and inexpensively. Thanks to the work of Polish researchers the efficiency of the measuring techniques they created is now being examined.
This research should eventually increase the safety of people using the artificial heart. Scientists put a lot of effort into perfecting treatments and developing new methods of combating heart disease. Commercially available Zortrax printers are used for these tests and research efforts. They make the life of scientists much easier.
The future of medicine lies in 3D printing
3D printing is already everywhere in medicine. 3D models help with planning surgeries, the winch designed by Zortrax is one of the tools useful during the surgery proper, 3D prints are used as prostheses, they’re helpful in aesthetic medicine, dentistry and transplantology.
Innovative methods and the possibility to print using new materials will let 3D printers become even more widespread. Tanks to 3D printing it is possible to quickly adjust any necessary elements as well as to lower costs, especially during prototyping and when creating customized items.