5 ways 3D printing could totally change medicine

A new study aims to alert medical professionals to the potential of 3D printing’s future use in the field.

3D printing technology is going to transform medicine, whether it is patient-specific surgical models, custom-made prosthetics, personalized on-demand medicines, or even 3D printed human tissue, says Jason Chuen, Director of Vascular Surgery at Austin Health and a Clinical Fellow at the University of Melbourne.

Before inserting and expanding a pen-sized stent into someone’s aorta, the hose-like artery that carries our blood away from the heart, Chuen, a surgeon, likes to practice on the patient first. Not for real of course, but in plastic.

He has a 3D printer in his office and brightly colored plastic aortas line his window sill at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne. They are all modeled from real patients and printed out from CT scans, ultrasounds, and x-rays.

“By using the model I can more easily assess that the stent is the right size and bends in exactly the right way when I deploy it,” says Chuen.

“At the moment 3D printing is at the cutting edge of medical research, but in the future the technology will be taken for granted by all of us in healthcare,” he says.

At its core 3D printing is the use of computer guidance technology to create 3D objects from digital plans by applying layers of material, such as heated plastic, or powders in the case of metals and ceramics. It is being used to print out anything from toys and food, to warships producing on-demand spare parts and even drones. Medicine is just another frontier.

The new paper, coauthored by Chuen and Jasamine Coles-Black, from the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, appears in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Here are the top five areas in which 3D printing is set to change medicine, according to the Chuen and Coles-Black:

By Andrew Trounson-Melbourne | Futurity

Image Credit: Getty Images

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About Peter Coffaro 1134 Articles

A growth-driven and strategic executive, Peter Coffaro commands more than 20 years of progressive management success within the medical device industry. As a District Sales Manager for Stryker Orthopaedics, Peter was responsible for managing and directing a regional sales force to achieve sales and profit goals within the Rocky Mountain region. Previously, he was the Director of Sales & Marketing for Amp Orthopedics. In this role, Peter was responsible for planning, developing, and leading all sales and marketing initiatives. Peter is a former orthopedic distributor in the Pacific Northwest. He has also worked with DePuy Orthopaedics as well as Zimmer, and held positions in sales, sales training, and sales management. Peter has an extensive background in organizational development, business development, sales management, negotiating and P&L management. Peter holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Northern Illinois University.

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