As far as game-changers go, 3D printing will fundamentally change the manufacturing model as we know it by allowing consumers to create items, clothes, kitchen utensils (you name it!) directly from their homes. This ‘manufacturing-on-demand’ technology empowers people to create objects without the traditional manufacturing set-up and infrastructure required and will usher in a new form of consumerism.
3D printing is a disrupter and will impact more than just manufacturing and already we’re beginning to see how it’s impacting health in new, exciting and possibly life-changing ways. Here are five examples of where 3D printing is revolutionizing health.
Printed Eye Cells Could Help Treat Blindness
Technically not 3D printing but standard ink-jet printing. MIT Technology Review reports on news that researchers of the University of Cambridge in the UK that have used a standard ink-jet printer to form layers of two types of cells taken from the retinas of rats, and showed that the process did not compromise the cells’ health or ability to survive and grow in culture. Printing of this kind could help people suffering from common forms of blindness and retinal degeneration. Source: MIT Technology Review
3-D Printer Helps Paralyzed Woman Walk
- Picture: discovery.com
The custom-made exoskeleton suit was made for a woman who has been paralyzed from the waist down since the early 1990s. The suit was built by 3D Systems and EksoBionics and according to discovery.com “designers were able to mold the suit, which attaches with Velcro,by using data from a body scan. It fits over the mechanical elements made by EksoBionics, protecting from bruising and even sweat: the suit lets her skin breathe.” Source: news.discovery.com
Doctor creates new pelvis using a 3D printer
A patient in Newcastle, UK, who lost half of his pelvis to bone cancer had a new one created by a 3D printer. The first-of-its-kind operation was carried out on a man in his 60s who is now walking again with the aid of a stick. The Daily Mail reports, “Although still in its infancy, surgeons and scientists are already collaborating on innovations, with computer-controlled machines assembling biological matter using organic inks and super-tough thermoplastics.” Source: Mail Online
3-D Printers Make Human Tissue
If you think 3D printing is just for man-made material take a look at Organovo Holdings which is using them to create living tissue that could one day replicate the human liver including being able to clean the body of toxins. An article in Businessweek says the “company’s five- and 10-year goals are first to use a patient’s own cells to print tissue strips that can be used to patch failing organs, and finally to be able to create entire new organs.” Source: Businessweek
3D Printing Reshapes Patient’s Face
- Picture: BBC News
Stephen Power of Wales, UK is thought to be one of the first trauma patients in the world to have 3D printing used as every stage of the operating procedure. Suffering multiple trauma injuries after a motorcycle accident his operation used custom-printed models, guides, plates and implants to repair impact injuries months after they were sustained. Source: BBC News