Additive manufacturing (AM) has been widely embraced by the medical community, and one of the technology’s most frequent medical uses is prosthetics design. All manner of prosthetics have been designed with the aid of AM, including high tech models, low cost models, and even animal prosthetics. AM’s flexibility and material options make it uniquely suited to building prosthetics more quickly and less expensively than through traditional manufacturing methods.
UK based Fripp Design is looking to add to the potential of 3D printed prosthetics with its development of AM-built facial prosthetics. Through careful material selection and model design, the company is planning to offer nose, ear and eye prosthetics. Not only will these prosthetics be less expensive than the custom, hand-crafted models currently used, they will also be available in a fraction of the time. A prosthetic could be ready in days, rather than the months currently required. Continue reading
Among all the industries additive manufacturing (AM) has made an impact in, the medical field may be the most important. Whether an AM device is saving a baby’s life or developing synthetic human tissue, the technology has the potential to improve lives in a very direct manner. Scientists have been hard at work developing 3D printed scaffolds to assist in growing tissue, to support grafts, or in the fabrication of implantable drug delivery systems.
The key to these procedures is the use of two-photon polymerization, which is capable of building nano scale structures. A potential issue with building these structures from polymers is the tendency for the materials to be toxic. Researchers at North Carolina State University (NC State) may have discovered a way to overcome this hazard by building the nano structures using riboflavin (AKA vitamin B2). Continue reading
It’s amazing how quickly a good idea can spread. In the last few years, since additive manufacturing (AM) systems have come down in price enough to democratize use, a number of different teams have, independently of each other, been working with the technology to build increasingly sophisticated prosthetic hands. Even better, the prosthetics continue to be less and less expensive to build.
A new prosthetic project, called Handie, was on display at the Maker Faire Tokyo. All non-electronic components of the Handie prosthetic are built with a 3D printers, making it affordable to assemble, and easy to repair. The “brains” of the prosthetic are provided by an app written for smartphones, which further reduces the price. Continue reading
According to the CDC, heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the US. For those patients lucky enough to be diagnosed with a condition before a serious heart incident occurs, one method of treatment involves a heart transplant. Unfortunately, the number of hearts available for transplants always lags behind the number of patients waiting for a new heart.
The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that around 3,000 people seek a new heart each year, with only 2,000 available hearts to go around. During the waiting period, patients are hooked up to a ventricular assist device (VAD), essentially a small pump to regulate heart and blood flow. Researchers at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) have filed a patent for a new, 3D printed VAD that could extend the lifespan of patients awaiting a heart transplant. Continue reading