However, 3D printing technology is still relatively new and has only recently been adopted in the medical device manufacturing sector, meaning that manufacturers are still adapting to some remaining difficulties. Here are three advantages and three disadvantages of 3D printing for medical device manufacturers. The speed of 3D printing allows manufacturers to quickly create devices in response to patient demand. Traditional implants can take weeks to design and manufacture, especially if they need to be customized for a patient.
Combined with the possibility of personalized medical devices, the “just-in-time” approach that allows 3D printing could result in personal devices on demand. These components may be more suitable for patients than the devices they might have had to wait for in the past. Some medical device companies are already using 3D printing to rapidly develop and test drug delivery devices, such as inhalers and injectors. These devices should be comfortable and easy to use.
Often, manufacturers can only determine if a design is truly ergonomic and designed for human use through repeated testing. Traditional design and manufacturing methods can take weeks to produce a new prototype. With 3D printing, it's much faster to repeat previous designs. 3D technology allows you to design and print a prototype in a few days.
Manufacturers can reduce this waste, and 3D printing in and of itself isn't necessarily a waste. For example, since 3D printing uses only the materials that end up in the final product (no material ends up in the factory), it is, in some ways, less wasteful than traditional manufacturing. And the plastic used in 3D printing can often be recycled. However, plastic and high energy consumption are not good for the environment, no matter how you look at it.
Medical device manufacturers who want to work with 3D printing must accept these environmental costs or seek an alternative. There are a limited amount of materials that can be used in 3D printing. Composite devices or devices that require special non-printable materials or components can be difficult or impossible to 3D print without cutting out some details. However, new materials for 3D printing are constantly being announced.
For some manufacturers, the right materials may be out of reach for a few months or years. However, some materials, such as fabrics, are going to be difficult or impossible to print. In cases like these, manufacturers may have to rely on traditional manufacturing methods, either partially or completely. If a design error causes a 3D printer to make the same mistake on a set of several hundred devices, manufacturers will have to dedicate a significant amount of additional work to correct those errors.
These post-labor costs can cancel out the money that a manufacturer could have saved by switching to a 3D printing process. Some operations management experts believe that this drawback is enough to prevent 3D printing from becoming competitive in the short term. However, it must be said that this problem is not guaranteed. New 3D printing technology will likely improve the quality of 3D printed devices, if only gradually.
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. Medical device manufacturers can benefit from 3D printing in a variety of ways. This technology makes it possible to reduce production costs, to have specific devices for each patient and to adopt a just-in-time manufacturing approach. However, manufacturers must know the current disadvantages of 3D printing technology before investing too much.
Join more than 200,000 medical device professionals who outperform their peers. The following are the steps you can take to protect your facilities and your workers from potential health hazards from 3D printing. With the growing popularity of 3D printers, a new series of concerns are emerging, the main of which are the potential health hazards posed by fumes emitted when printing 3D objects. If a medical device manufacturer wants to reduce energy consumption or emissions produced, 3D printing will make it difficult to comply with those plans.
If you don't have an insulated housing for the printing equipment, select a room or location that has high airflow, windows that can work, and outdoor exits. While the popularity of 3D printing has grown, many health hazards of 3D printing are just beginning to be recognized. To protect all workers involved in 3D printing, it is essential that organizations become familiar with the specific health risks involved and how to combat them properly through the use of appropriate practices and personal protective equipment (PPE). Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing has rapidly gained ground in the manufacturing industry.
It is important to identify the hazards present during the 3D printing process in order to provide appropriate personal protective equipment to workers. Some materials that are commonly used in 3D printing processes, such as nylon, PLA and ABS, produce volatile organic compounds of particular concern, such as butanol and styrene. While 3D printing seems relatively safe, a deeper analysis shows that the compounds, chemicals and materials used and emitted during printing are hazardous. For example, NIOSH offers informational posters on 3D printing with metal powders and 3D printing with filaments.
You'll find him 3D printing with his Anet A8, Anycubic Kobra and Ender 3V2 printers when he's not writing. .