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3D Printing of Medical Equipment: 4 Emerging Applications

The world of 3D printing is expanding at an unprecedented rate. Bringing about innovations in maritimeautomotive and more industries, the use of this technology in the medical field has been an active area as well, with new applications frequently developed.

In this article, we will explore some of the emerging areas where 3D printing is proving to be an invaluable tool for medical and healthcare professionals.

Medical Equipment Created Through 3D Printing

Currently, selective laser sintering (SLS) and fused deposition modeling (FDM) are most commonly used to manufacture medical equipment. SLS can precisely construct parts layer by layer, using a high powered laser to fuse together the particles of the print material. 3D-printed parts are usually built from nylon in powdered form.

FDM, on the other hand, melts thermoplastic material and deposits it in layers on the print bed. Both additive manufacturing techniques have their own unique characteristics which can determine the properties of your 3D-printed parts. With online 3D printing services like Additive3D Asia in Singapore, your organisation can get standard and customised medical tools in a matter of days instead of weeks.  

How is 3D Printing Used in the Health and Medical Industry?

1.Surgical instruments

3D printing is, for starters, known for rapid prototyping. Repeated 3D printing processes can mass produce tools like forceps, medical clamps and scalpel handles in a shorter period of time. For special circumstances, the design of these surgical instruments can be revised and developed to suit the surgeon or patient for better care in Singapore.

2.Custom-made prosthetics

Generally, modern prosthetics like dentures and artificial limbs consist of plastic, aluminium and other composite materials. Its production can take weeks to even a few months and in the case of personalised prosthetics, will require more time where special tooling is required. In addition to faster time to market, the geometric freedom enabled by 3D printing can present higher-performing prosthetic limbs that fit its user well.

Orthopedic implants in the knee and hip can be also fully designed to accommodate individual patients’ needs. In fact, it is forecasted that 3D-printed orthopedic devices will constitute a growth of 25% in the orthopedic market between 2021 and 2025, yielding up to 1.94 billion dollars. Not only are they more affordable, 3D-printed prosthetics are lightweight and can meet the precise measurements required. Without compromising the patient’s health, 3D-printed assistive devices can be delivered quicker to promote healing and further contribute to a better quality of life.

3.Tissue and organ fabrication

For tissue or even organ transplantation, patients rely on the availability of potential donors. Yet, where there is a shortage of donors, this poses a challenge for those who need it urgently. Achieved through 3D bioprinting, the utilisation of 3D printing technologies can produce artificial tissues and organs in replacement of actual human organs. With advances in bioprinting, more is yet to come to unlock its full potential in the medical field.  

4.Anatomical models for education and operation preparation

For educational purposes in the medical sector, 3D printing can accurately replicate patient-specific anatomy through the use of representative models. This can also be essential in the daily work of surgeons in operation preparation, for example, to map out procedures in advance before heading into the operating room. Such new practice has helped speed up the actual operation time, reduce errors and avoid any unforeseen life threatening complications.

5.The fight against COVID-19

We’ve also seen 3D printing lending a hand to speed up the healthcare supply chain during the Covid-19 pandemic, where the demand for medical devices such as personal protective equipment (PPE) could be met at a shorter lead time. Closer to home, are the fabrication of 3D-printed nasal swabs, 3D-printed face shields and 3D-printed nasal models to meet the growing demand locally during the early period of the pandemic outbreak. The team at Additive3D Asia rallied together with others in the industry to answer the call for assistance by using 3D-printing to produce these custom medical devices. This is an example of how 3D-printing technology is out to good use for functional application and is an alternative to traditional manufacturing methods.  

Interested to use 3D printing technology to complement your area of expertise? With the help of a reliable 3D printing company, it promises great things for future innovations within the Singapore industry. Get in touch with us for more information today.

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