3D Printing Could Revolutionize The Health Industry

Posted by Bhavesh Joshi On Saturday, February 16, 2013 0 comments
3D Printing

Introduction to 3D Printing

The potential held within 3D printing has many people excited, and it is easy to see why. With the technology still in its formative stage, each new use hits the headlines, with a Japanese company recently using the tech to create chocolate treats for Valentine’s Day, shaped like the customer’s face from a plastic mold. Although uses such as this may be frivolous, the potential for greater and bigger things is already on the horizon.

3D Printing Explained
In order to understand the potential of 3D printing, first we must understand what it exactly is. Put simply, 3D printers download pre-designed templates and then recreate the item layer-by-layer. While it was previously restricted to plastics, it is now possible to use metals and biomaterials. This has opened up a world of possibilities, with innovative ideas continually being pioneered. One of the ideas that have stirred the imagination is the creation of artificial organs, ready for transplant.

Organs for All
Producing these artificial organs in-house as-and-when they are needed could provide a major advantage over the current system in which the waiting list can be extremely lengthy – unfortunately too lengthy in some cases.

One of the major hurdles which must be overcome before 3D printing becomes commonplace for complex items is the regulatory rules which will govern it. Such is the complexity of the case that no concrete legislation has yet been confirmed, as copyright and legal responsibilities have not yet been determined. When the item being produced is something as complex and vital as an organ, this gets especially delicate.

Looking to the Future

3D Printing Could Revolutionize The Health Industry

When looking at the bigger picture, the potential for replicating organs for transplant has truly captured the attention of the world and could revolutionise the healthcare industry. Prototype artificial blood vessels have already been created, with work ongoing towards producing a viable way to provide replacement organs for those who are in need. Creating artificial organs has long been the aim for many in 3D printing, with clusters of stem cells now being produced to speed up the process. It could be some time before we see artificial organs being easily and regularly produced in this manner, but as the advancements continue, the future looks increasingly promising. The future aim will be to provide organs quickly and easily through the 3D printing medium, although this could provide tricky under current regulatory rules. Changes will have to be made in order for this process to become mainstream once the tech is complete.


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