Learn how the use of 3D printing is changing the field of prosthetics. 3D prosthesis printing is the use of 3D printers to design and create artificial and portable body parts, such as legs, hands and arms. It is a relatively new method compared to the traditional production method. Medical 3D printing is used to create cost-effective and highly personalized prostheses and orthopedic appliances.
A prosthesis is an artificial device that replaces a missing body part, which may be lost as a result of injury, illness, or a congenital condition. An orthosis is an external device that is used to modify the structural and functional characteristics of the neuromuscular and skeletal system. From 3D printed hearts to knee prostheses and 3D scanners, 3D technologies can change or even save millions of lives. From the creation of 3D printed hand prostheses to functional wrists, solutions can be offered with additive manufacturing.
Prosthesis and orthopedic appliances are ideal for 3D printing because they are often made of plastic and must be tailor-made to fit each patient. Thanks to the opportunities for mass customization and the flexibility of manufacturing and design processes, 3D printing becomes a real alternative for this sector. The FDA approved a 3D-printed polyetherketone (PEKK) skull implant, which Oxford Performance Materials (OPM) successfully implanted. Medical 3D printing is used to produce plastic molds that are lightweight and custom-made to fit the patient perfectly.
We recently learned about the British case of Steve Verze, a Londoner, who became the first person in the world to receive an eye prosthesis fully printed in 3D. While 3D printed prostheses allow amputees to get products for thousands of dollars less than traditional prostheses, the methods and materials used are a cause for concern. For children, who can quickly outgrow their prostheses, 3D printing is a very cost-effective option. A research team from Belgium successfully implanted the first 3D printed titanium mandibular prosthesis, using a laser to melt thin layers of titanium powder.
3D bioprinting is the creation of biological tissues and organs by stratifying living cells, using a 3D bioprinter. Medical 3D printing covers a variety of medical applications, from 3D bioprinting to custom-made molds and custom-made prostheses or orthoses. When it comes to industries that adopt 3D printing, one of the first and most fervent advocates of technologies is, of course, the medical sector. Medical 3D printing also encompasses the production of custom molds made of lightweight plastic that fit the patient perfectly.
The idea behind this project is to bring together manufacturers and enthusiasts to create a network of prosthesis models in the world that, obviously, can be 3D printed.