Medical additive manufacturing (AM) has developed into its own field. It seems like not a day passes without medical researchers discovering a new way to use the technology to either save or improve lives. Whether its low-cost prosthetics, or medical implants, AM has brought a bevy of new options to health care.
New research has focused on combining 3D printing and heart health. In a paper titled “3D multifunctional integumentary membranes for spatiotemporal cardiac measurements and stimulation across the entire epicardium,” published in Nature Communications, a team of scientists describes the method they employed to create a membranous sleeve that can surround a heart to provide monitoring and cardiac assistance. Continue reading
One of my first professional writing gigs was to build a short index of emerging technologies, specifically technology on the bleeding edge. During my research, one of the bits of interesting tech I found was work on exoskeletons, both for the handicapped, and for increased strength. That particular piece of tech was the only one my editor didn’t believe. I’m pretty sure he accused me of cribbing from Aliens. Maybe I’ll forward him this article.
3D Systems and Ekso Bionics have come together to create what 3DS is calling the first bespoke exoskeleton. The exoskeleton was built using body scans performed by 3DS and the robotics technological know-how of Ekso Bionics. The result has allowed Amanda Boxtel, paralyzed in a skiing accident, to walk again for the first time in 22 years. Continue reading
The future of medicine took a giant leap forward with the advent of bioprinting. Compared to the ethical quandaries surrounding cloning, bioprinting offers a no-strings-attached chance to build new organs, bone and tissue in precisely the quantities required and manufactured from a patient’s own cells.
Bioprinting research is ongoing around the world, including by companies in the US, such as Organovo, which is developing methods of delivering batches of living tissue for medical trials. In the Netherlands, Utrecht Life Sciences is preparing to join the ranks of bioprinting pioneers with the foundation of its Biofabrication Facility. Continue reading
Of the many fields that have benefited from the rise of additive manufacturing (AM), the one that has most quickly turned the technology to the direct benefit of people is the medical field. 3D printed prosthetics are better fits and less expensive, and companies like Organovo are on the brink of offering bioprinted human tissue useful for medical experiments.
ConforMIS, a company specializing in knee replacements, has joined the field of medical AM with its iFit technology. The company uses CT scan data to produce CAD designs allowing doctors to manufacture individualized knee replacements for each patient. Custom implants make for a better fit, which allow doctors to reduce the amount of healthy tissue removed during surgery, and reduces pain following recovery. Continue reading
The rise of 3D printing has made a different kind of manufacturing possible. Instead of parts being built in a dozen or more locations around the globe, then shipped to a final destination to be assembled, digital information is compiled and transmitted to any location with the capability to receive the data. Not only does this paradigm shift save companies money in shipping, it also makes it possible to set up end-use manufacturing shops around the globe.