Ever since it evolved from an early prototype that was almost abandoned to a mainstream market available to any consumer, 3D printing has been useful in some facet of almost every domain. Researchers can use it to conveniently form unique designs, clothing manufacturers can mass-produce entire lines of clothing and prototype more complex items without much effort, food manufacturers can batch-prepare foods by funneling them through specialized printers, and the list will only get longer and longer as time goes on. One of the domains that can be considered to have benefited most from this innovation is the entire medical domain: from printing medical equipment that can be created cheaply and shipped in bulk to impoverished or drug-deprived areas, to creating From personalized prosthetics for those who need it, to even forming new organs that can be implanted directly in patients, its effects are certainly remarkable.
The production of medical devices may be one of the most obvious benefits to begin with, but it in no way discredits the tremendous impact it has had. 3D printing allows for the convenient production of prototypes, both in terms of physically creating them to see if they work in practice and modifying them later if the prototype has any flaws (it’s as simple as adjusting a model on a computer). This approach also allows models to be easily examined from all directions, both inside and outside; if required, it can also be broken down into smaller parts, allowing for finer adjustments. Once finished, it can be produced at a fraction of the cost of regular equipment with a significant increase in speed and almost zero loss in quality; as a result, there is a sudden boom in equipment for areas that lack the funds to obtain it otherwise. 3D printing makes the process more convenient for both the people who create the equipment and the people who use it.
Prosthetics are the next logical step when it comes to 3D printing in the medical field. After all, if there is a process that can create detailed objects for a pittance of money, someone would think of using it to replace an industry that also creates detailed objects for an inordinate amount of money. However, cost is not the only benefit that comes with 3D printing, as it also allows these same prosthetics to be customized for the convenience of the client. It goes beyond making a hand color green instead of gray or adding a neat decal to the side of a leg; the proportions of a given prosthesis can be easily modified for those who need it, leaving them feeling exactly as comfortable and resistant as possible. If a finger is too long, it can be quickly modified and delivered. This applies to all parts of the body that possibly require prosthetics: fingers, hands, arms, legs, even parts of the skull. When it comes to artificial limbs, utilizing 3D printing just makes the whole process simpler and more efficient.
3D printing of organs sounds more like science fiction than reality. While the other products listed can be made through strong plastic or metal, the organs can hardly be replaced with anything more than inorganic material. The alternative is that living matter, such as cells, is somehow involved in the printing process and, although it seems impossible, it has become a reality. The standard 3D printer can’t produce organs, obviously, but the specialized printers that can, can take cells from the intended recipient and fuse them with a type of plastic that can exist inside and cooperate with the inner workings of a human. It is important to note that these organs cannot currently be mass-produced, unlike the medical equipment and prosthetics detailed above, and only small or non-complex parts such as skin, parts of the outer ear, and the trachea can be printed. . Yet these seemingly small parts are paving the way for a future where larger, more complex organs can not only be printed, but also produced in quantity large enough to make a difference and save lives. of those who would otherwise have no organs. .
This doesn’t even touch the possibility of creating life-size models with an exhaustive amount of detail, molecular assembly, and the myriad other possibilities that exist within and outside the domain of medicine. As the years go by and more and more people use technology for innovative purposes, the usefulness of 3D printing becomes limitless, and as long as it continues to inspire generations to come, it will only get better.