3D Printing in Healthcare: Opportunities, Benefits, Barriers, and Facilitators

3D Printing in Healthcare: Opportunities, Benefits, Barriers, and Facilitators

Nilmini Wickramasinghe (Swinburne University of Technology, Australia & Epworth HealthCare, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1371-2.ch016

Abstract

3D printing has developed as a modification of an old injection printer. Today, it is rapidly expanding offering novel possibilities as well as new exciting applications for various sectors including healthcare, automotive, aerospace, and defense industries. This chapter presents key application areas within the healthcare sector. In medicine, 3D printing is revolutionizing the way operations are carried out, disrupting prosthesis and implant markets as well as dentistry. The relatively new field of bioprinting has come to be because of advances with this technology. As will be discussed, numerous applications of 3D printing in healthcare relate to personalized medicine. For instance, implants or prostheses are 3D printed for a specific user's body, optimizing the technology to work for an individual, not an average user as with most mass-produced products. In addition, 3D printing has applications on the nanoscale with printing of drugs and other smaller items. Hence, 3D printing represents a disruptive technology for healthcare delivery.
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3D Applications

Additive manufacturing, also referred to as 3D printing, has been used by different industries since its inception. Medical technology has however applied it extensively and this is an excellent opportunity to help patients with speciifc needs. Medical imaging techniques including computed tomography (CT) scans, X-rays, ultrasounds, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans are used in the production of the original digital model (Barrow, 2018). The produced model is then fed into the 3D printer which manufactures an excellent replica of the organ (ibid). The growth of additive manufacturing has been forecasted to increase in the future since the medical field comprises of numerous cases that need more inventions (Wen & Korakianitis, 2018). However, 3D printing offers opportunities in four core areas in the medical field that are important. These areas are the leading cause of its introduction into the medical field.

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