From Charles Goulding at 3dprint.com
I had the privilege of attending a two-day Future of 3D Printing in Medicine and Dentistry conference on January 22nd and 23rd in Washington, D.C. at the Army and Navy Club. The Additive Manufacturing Strategies summit was sponsored by SmarTech Markets Publishing and 3DPrint.com.
3D Printing Medical Devices
Day one was entitled 3D Printed Medical Devices. The opening keynote speaker was Lee Dockstader, Director of Vertical Market Development at HP Inc., whose thorough presentation set the stage for the entire conference. Dockstader wants to develop additive manufacturing in industries including Aerospace, Automotive, Medical, Dental, Life Sciences, Consumer and Retail.
Scott Dunham, Vice President of Research at SmarTech Markets Publishing, gave a comprehensive presentation that was particularly informative on the large production volumes occurring with certain non regulated low entry barrier products. The consensus estimate is that 300,000 low barrier medical devices are now 3D printed per day. Dr. Roger Narayan, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at UNC, gave a detailed presentation on the technical and regulatory aspects of additive medical markets. 3D printing has the potential to revolutionize business models and provides access to custom and functional prosthetic and orthotic medical devices.
Integrating developments in advanced robotics, big data and 3D printing can help the health sector improve patient care and reduce costs.
The rise of new digital technologies always inspires a wave of excitement and numerous predictions from healthcare experts about revolutionary changes that should be expected. For example, the first real use of 3D printing happened in 1999 and, since then, it has been heralded as a cost-cutting saviour for producing specialist medical equipment. It has even been predicted to be the solution to the challenge of organ transplant shortages. Clearly, the healthcare industry has much to gain from embracing new technology.
Those in the healthcare supply chain acknowledge the importance of new technologies, like advanced robotics, big data and 3D printing, in improving outcomes. In fact, in a recent survey1, 83% of respondents from healthcare and pharma said that big data was the most disruptive technology in the industry today, while 44% named advanced robotics as important to supply chain functions and 35% pointed to 3D printing as a significant disruptor.
3D printing technology is the ideal solution for the healthcare industry’s need for the efficient production of complex and personalized products. A large number of market majors have shown deep interest in adopting 3D printing for its ability to customize drugs, active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and medical devices, driving an era of personalized medicine. The field that is most likely to be disrupted by 3D printing is pharmacy distribution of drugs because of the ease of obtaining customized dosage quantities of medication.
“Using 3D-printed tissues for drug testing, clinical trials and toxicity testing will have a huge impact in the pharmaceutical sector, as they will help eliminate costly animal testing and use of synthetic tissues,” noted Frost & Sullivan TechVision Research Analyst Madhumitha Rangesa. “However, traditional, large-scale manufacturing is still more economical for mass production of drugs; 3D printing will be viable for small-volume production in orphan diseases.”
3D Printing is at a tipping point and about to go main stream in a big way. It has been predicted that the industry will go through revolutionary changes when 3D Printing gets common and we aim to be among the ones making this revolution happen. Technology has moved well beyond prototyping, rapid tooling, trinkets and toys; Additive manufacturing is creating durable and safe products for sale to real customers in moderate to large quantities thereby impacting the economies of scale.
The beginnings of this revolution showed up in 2014, when through a survey of over a 100 manufacturing companies, 11% of them had already switched to volume production of 3D Printed parts or products; according to our analysis we call a particular technology to be mainstream when it reaches an adoption level of over 15%. Numerous companies in multiple industries are ramping up production and observing these developments and we opine that 3D Printing is ready to emerge from its nascent stage to becoming a viable alternative to conventional manufacturing in multiple industries for various applications. More companies will follow the major players and with this revolutionary shift, companies should start engaging strategically to see how they could improve their offerings, revisit their operations and the implications it could have on the commercial ecosystem as a whole.
When you think about the dentist, you’re probably not thinking about high tech gadgets – at the most, you’re probably thinking about those fancy chairs, and those fearsome drills and other instruments of terror. But it turns out that dental labs and dental hospitals are picking up on one of the most exciting areas in technology today – 3D printing.
Although medical 3D printing does exist, don’t get too excited here – these printers don’t print out a replacement tooth for you on demand, or anything like that. That’s in the pipeline, but right now, the printers are used to fabricate stone models quickly and accurately – the models can then be used to plan your procedure.