Since the beginning of the 2010s, the advances that 3-D printing technology has made are almost seemingly endless. Not only can 3-D printers create almost any design that can be dreamed up by a designer, but they are increasingly helping people and even saving lives in fields like healthcare.
Business Insider reports, for instance, that a British surgeon was able to implant a 3-D printed pelvis for a man whose own bone was lost to bone cancer, the first transplant of its kind.
Approaches like 3-D printing can provide newfound opportunity for improving patients' quality of life in situations like this one because of their potential for improvisation. In this situation, the patient suffered from a rare type of cancer called chondrosarcoma, which affected so much of his pelvis that attaching a standard implant would not have been possible.
To prepare this pelvis, surgeons took scans of the man's remaining bone and sent them to an implant producer, which then used the images to create a replacement printed in titanium. After the implant was completed, the team added a regular hip replacement that would ensure it remained connected with no problems.
All prosthetics may improve
Fierce CIO ads that 3-D printing is likely to revolutionize the entire implant-creating process, as its improved customization will allow for quicker and more effective development of specific patients' products that require no human body parts or tissue to be developed. In comparison, the industry is also seeing printing of human body parts, organs and tissues becoming more feasible, but in the meantime, production and ethical questions are limiting that aspect of the technology from being fully implemented.
As a whole, 3-D printing will likely improve product development, rapidly expanding the total abilities of the technology. This may even threaten some producers, the news source adds – Gartner predictions found that in the next five years, 3-D printing may result in a loss of $100 billion per year in intellectual property – and that's a low estimate.
Overall, however, the innovation and imagination that can be seen in 3-D printing and rapid prototyping in healthcare will likely help improve users' quality of life and even save lives in the near future.
Equipment and healthcare industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, leaders in healthcare equipment financing. Marlin is a nationwide provider of equipment financing solutions supporting equipment suppliers and manufacturers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.