Developed by medical device specialists with a 3D printer, the models and prototypes are used to help doctors plan surgical procedures with reduced risk for patients. The actual construction height of the general surgical set was 3 inches and the construction time of each set was 6 hours. Other 3D printing methods, such as FDM, require fewer steps to separate the parts; many only need a hot water bath containing an alkaline solution to remove the support structures. New 3D printing technology will likely improve the quality of 3D printed devices, if only gradually.
Medical device manufacturers who want to work with 3D printing must accept these environmental costs or seek an alternative. In addition, greater familiarity with 3D printing techniques can also improve the initial quality of 3D printed devices, although the devices are unlikely to reach the consumer from production to the consumer without the need for additional labor. The main advantage of 3D printing in the manufacture of these instruments is the fact that specific modifications can be made to the designs, often based on feedback from surgeons after a prototype has been used. Some medical device companies are already using 3D printing to rapidly develop and test drug delivery devices, such as inhalers and injectors.
If a medical device manufacturer wants to reduce energy consumption or emissions produced, 3D printing will make it difficult to comply with those plans. Combined with the possibility of personalized medical devices, the “just-in-time” approach that allows 3D printing could result in personal devices on demand. Forceps, retractors, medical tweezers, needle pins, hemostats and scalpel handles are among the wide range of surgical tools that have been manufactured using 3D printing technology. Around the world, 3D printing has been used to reduce the shortage of vital medical equipment, such as personal protective equipment and ventilators, caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, which highlights its value as an alternative to traditional manufacturing methods.
Since then, personalized and patient-specific body parts, including fingers and toes, as well as limbs, have been widely produced by 3D printing. Figure 2 describes the workflow for adapting existing instruments or creating new instruments to 3D printed instruments and their iterative improvement. Some operations management experts believe that this drawback is enough to prevent 3D printing from becoming competitive in the short term. The final printed products were evaluated by practicing general surgeons to determine their ergonomic functionality and performance, including simulated surgery and the repair of inguinal hernias in human cadavers.
In addition to the above example of pre-surgical planning at GOSH, in the United Kingdom, 3D printing has been used to produce patient-specific organ ghosts in a handful of other medical settings around the world.