The flexibility additive manufacturing offers enables it to be used as a product generation solution at the point-of-care.
Bringing additive manufacturing and procedural planning technologies to the point of care is an innovative way for healthcare systems to improve outcomes, increase efficiency, and reduce total costs. This approach is gaining popularity as more healthcare executives realize the benefits of point of care (POC). “Additive manufacturing adoption in hospitals is growing rapidly, spurred by the pandemic, increased demand for precision healthcare, and the affordability and availability of 3D printing solutions,” said Gaurav Manchanda, medical market development director for Formlabs, a Somerville, Mass.-based 3D printing technology developer and manufacturer.
3D printing (3DP) is used in surgical settings to help improve patient care across the spectrum of investigation, planning, procedural, and post-operative processes.
“For prosthetics, the ability to create custom fittings allows for maximum comfort, while geometrical freedom allowed by 3D printing means new design structures can be created for lighter, stronger prostheses,” said Jessica Coughlin, director of market access for healthcare for Stratasys, an Eden Prairie, Minn.- and Rehovot, Israel-based manufacturer of 3D printers, polymer materials, software, and 3D-printed parts on demand. “For medical devices, the reduction in production lead time and availability of biocompatible materials means more personalized solutions are getting to patients more quickly.”
3D printing is also emerging as a new diagnostic tool for pre-surgical planning. 3D-printed models are extremely advantageous to surgeons—”for example, handling accurate physical replicas engages active spatial perception skills, enabling a more comprehensive understanding of the presented information in an inherently intuitive manner that cannot be achieved with conventional methods of imaging review that use screen-based 2D or volume-rendered representations,” Coughlin added.
The primary use case for POC AM/3DP (point of care additive manufacturing/3D printing) today is creating physical anatomical patient models, especially for patients with complex or rare conditions. Physicians analyze these models to determine the best treatment options, prepare for surgery, or explain procedures to patients—allowing them to make better-informed decisions that lead to improved patient outcomes.
By Mark Crawford | Orthopedic Design & Technology
Image Credit: 3D LifePrints