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Additive Manufacturing and Medical Technology

The medical technology industry has been at the forefront among the users of additive manufacturing. This is largely attributed to the fact that Additive Manufacturing capabilities align well with the industry’s medical device segment.

Here’s a look at how the industry benefits from additive manufacturing technology.


Personalization

The most significant benefit that Additive Manufacturing delivers to the medical technology industry is the freedom to create customized medical products. For instance, the use of additive manufacturing to custom-make implants and prosthetics can deliver great value to both the patient and the physician.

Likewise, the technology can be used to generate custom fixtures and jigs for use in the surgery rooms. Namely, custom fixtures, implants, and surgical equipment can be highly beneficial in terms of time needed for a surgical procedure, patient recovery time, as well as the success of the operation.

It’s also expected that additive manufacturing will, in the near future, allow for customization of drug dosage and dispensing for each patient.


Improved Cost Effectiveness

Another great advantage offered by additive manufacturing is the ability to produce medical products cheaply. Whereas subtractive manufacturing techniques remain cost-efficient for large-scale productions, the cost of additive manufacturing is becoming increasingly competitive for small-scale productions. This largely applies to small-sized standard prosthetics or implants, like the ones used for dental, craniofacial, or spinal complications.

The cost of custom-making an object through additive manufacturing is low, with the first object being as less expensive as the last. This greatly benefits companies with low production volumes or those that make products that need to be modified frequently. This technology can also lower manufacturing costs by minimizing the utilization of resources that aren’t really necessary.


Improved Efficiency

To begin with, you should know that “Fast” in additive manufacturing means that an object can be created in a couple of hours. That makes this technology quite faster when compared to the traditional techniques of manufacturing medical products. The traditional manufacturing techniques usually involve milling, forging, as well as a considerably long delivery time.

Besides the speed, there are several other aspects of additive manufacturing that are improving. They include:

Precision

The resolution

Dependability

Repeatability of the technology


Democratization and Association

Another benefit of additive manufacturing that can’t go unmentioned is the democratization of the design as well as manufacturing of products. A wide selection of materials is becoming available for use in additive manufacturing. Moreover, the cost of these materials is becoming increasingly less expensive. Consequently, individuals, including those in the medical industry, are able to utilize more than a 3D printing machine and their creativity to design and create innovative items for both commercial and personal purposes.

Likewise, the nature of additive manufacturing data files provides a great opportunity for sharing between professionals. Instead of trying to generate parameters that are spelled out in scientific write-ups, you can easily access downloadable .stl files, which are normally found in open-source databases. Then, with the help of a 3D printing machine, you can produce an exact model of a medical product, and this allows for accurate sharing of designs.

To promote the sharing of additive manufacturing data files for medical-related designs, custom laboratory equipment, as well as models of protein, bacteria, and viruses, on open-source platforms, the National Institutes of Health started the 3D Print Exchange in 2014.


Final Thoughts

Medical technology is a division of health technology, which encompasses products that diagnose, monitor, and treat human ailments. Additive manufacturing has made substantial contributions in this field, thanks to the strong alignment of its capabilities with needs of the medical technology device segment. WITHIN is among the leading companies in the development of additive manufacturing applications for the medical industry.