Additive Manufacturing is Fueling the Latest Medical Innovations.
Healthcare professionals are incredibly optimistic about additive manufacturing technology, as it can revolutionize surgical procedures and care. Currently additive manufacturing techniques allow manufacturers to produce tools for surgeries at a reduced cost and with exceptional efficiency. The hope in the medical field is that these customized tools can be tailored to each patient's anatomy, thereby enhancing the quality of care.
Manufacturers must use biocompatible materials, including adhesives, when fabricating tools using the 3D printing (additive) process. These materials have been specially engineered to interact with human tissue and systems in a way that does not disrupt normal function. A biocompatible material is less likely to be rejected by the host’s body than other materials.
Manufacturers typically turn to durable metals, such as stainless steel and titanium, as well as medical-grade polymers. Titanium and medical-grade polymers are particularly popular, as they are much lighter than stainless steel.
The adhesives that are used in additive manufacturing must be flexible, durable and of high isotropic strength. Typically it is a two-component, toughened adhesive which provides high resilience to vibrations, impact and dynamic loading and is typically designed for service temperatures up to 120°C, making it extremely durable and suitable in high-temperature environments.
3D printing methods build parts by adding material layer by layer. This allows manufacturers to create patient-specific tools and components with greater precision. They can achieve high-level customization when manufacturing components, such as screws and plates, which leads to reduced surgical time and improved patient outcomes. 3D printing is also more cost-effective.
The impact on patient care can be significant. Surgical instruments and customized tools manufactured by 3D printing represent one of the greatest surgical innovations in decades. When these instruments and technologies are available at scale, they have the potential to improve patient outcomes, reduce surgery times, and expedite recoveries.