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3D printing application in medical industry

August 18, 2022

The medical device industry continues to grow around the world. With the development of the industry, 3D printing of medical device prototypes and production parts is also developing. Medical 3D printing is no longer something in science fiction. Additive manufacturing (AM) is now used in everything from surgical implants to artificial limbs, even organs and bones.

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1、 Advantages of 3D printing for medical use
Why 3D printing is very suitable for the medical market? The three main factors are speed, customization and cost-effectiveness.
3D printing enables engineers to innovate faster. Engineers can turn ideas into physical prototypes in 1-2 days. Faster product development time allows companies to allocate more time to receive feedback from surgeons and patients. In turn, more and better feedback will lead to better performance of the design in the market.
3D printing has achieved an unprecedented level of customization. Everyone's body is different, and 3D printing allows engineers to customize products according to these differences. This increases patient comfort, surgical accuracy, and improves outcomes. Customization also allows engineers to be creative in a wide range of applications. With the application of 3D printing technology in thousands of flexible, colorful and solid materials, engineers can put their most creative vision into practice.
Most importantly, 3D printing can generally realize customized medical applications at a lower cost than traditional manufacturing.

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2、 3D printing technology for medical treatment
Metal and plastic 3D printing technologies are suitable for medical applications. The most common technologies include melt deposition modeling (FDM), direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), carbon direct photosynthesis (DLS), and selective laser sintering (SLS).
FDM is a good process for early device prototypes and surgical models. Sterilizable FDM materials include ppsf, ULTEM and ABS m30i. Metal 3D printing through DMLS can be completed with 17-4PH stainless steel, which is a sterilizable material. Carbon fiber is a new process that uses custom resins for various end-use medical device applications. Finally, SLS can produce strong and flexible parts, which is the best process to use when creating bone replicas.

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3、 Use 3D printing in the medical industry
3D printing is changing almost all aspects of the medical industry. 3D printing makes training easier, improves patient experience and accessibility, and simplifies implant procurement and implantation process.
1. Implants:
3D printing is not only a part of our physical world, but also a part of many people's bodies. Cutting edge technology now allows 3D printing of organic matter, such as cells for tissues, organs and bones. For example, orthopaedic implants are used for bone and muscle repair. This helps to improve the availability of the implant. 3D printing is also good at making fine lattices that can be placed outside surgical implants, which helps reduce the rejection rate of implants.
2. Surgical tools:
It is particularly effective in the dental field. 3D printing tools conform to the unique anatomical structure of patients and help surgeons improve surgical accuracy. Plastic surgeons also often use guides and tools made by 3D printing. Guides are particularly useful in knee arthroplasty, facial surgery, and hip arthroplasty. The guides for these procedures are usually made of a sterilizable plastic pc-iso.
3. Surgical planning and medical training mode:
Future doctors now often practice on 3D printed organs, which can better simulate human organs than animal organs. Doctors can now print out exact copies of a patient's organs, making it easier to prepare for complex operations.
4. Medical equipment and tools:
Traditionally manufactured using subtraction technology, many surgical tools and devices that now use 3D printing can customize printing to solve specific problems. 3D printing can also produce conventionally manufactured tools such as clips, scalpels and tweezers in a more sterile form and at a lower cost. 3D printing also makes it easier to quickly replace these damaged or aging tools.
5. Prosthesis:
3D printing plays a key role in making fashionable and easy-to-use artificial limbs. 3D printing makes it easier to develop low-cost prosthetics for communities in need. Prosthetics are now being used for 3D printing in war zones such as Syria and rural areas in Haiti. Due to the limitation of cost and accessibility, many people did not have such equipment before.
6. Drug dosage tool:
It is now possible to 3D print pills containing multiple drugs, and the release time of each drug is different. These tablets make dose compliance easier and reduce the risk of overdose due to patient errors. They also help to solve problems related to various drug interactions.
7. Customized manufacturing of medical device companies
Since the cost of high-end SLS, DMLS and carbon 3D printers may be as high as $500000 or more, many medical companies outsource their production to manufacturing as a service companies such as xometry. 86% of Fortune 500 medical companies rely on xometry's 3D printing services and medical injection molding as part of their innovation process. We help the world's largest and fastest-growing companies move faster from ideas to prototypes to production, thereby increasing their chances of success in the market.
Since the cost of high-end SLS, DML and carbon 3D printers may be more than US $500000, many medical companies are handing over the production to speedup. We help medical device companies move faster from conception to prototype to production, which increases their chances of success in the market.

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4、 Reasons for medical device companies to trust the rapid increase
1. Manufacturing network: we have a manufacturing network of more than 1000 manufacturing partners, including partners specializing in medical devices, dentistry and custom fixtures
2. Wide range of capabilities: in addition to 3D printing process, we also provide CNC machining, sheet metal manufacturing, hand mold and injection molding (including overmolding and insert molding), which enables us to manufacture parts at any stage of the product life cycle
3. Medical materials: instant quotation of PEEK and 17-4PH stainless steel and 316L and a series of other materials
4. Proven results: the world's top 500 companies and many of the fastest-growing small companies in the industry use rapid processing to manufacture parts