Three-dimensional printing has been around for much longer than many people realize. The process uses a blueprint or digital model and creates a replica by applying successive layers of a material such as plastic. It is used in a number of industries, but biomedical engineering technicians Houston TX are just beginning to uncover its applications in the field of medicine. Here are a couple that have been identified.
- Surgical Instruments
3D printing can be used to produce tools used in surgery. These can be produced to very precise specifications at a fraction of what it would cost to manufacture them otherwise. Not only that, but 3D-printed surgical tools are completely sterile, which is important to the prevention of postoperative infection.
- Surgical Guides
When a surgeon performs an operation, he or she has to know exactly where to cut. 3D printing can help create accurate models of the surgical area to help the surgeon with planning the procedure.
- Custom Prosthetics
A prosthetic is an artificial body part used to replace one that is missing or has to be removed. In the past, prosthetics were one-size-fits-all, which could be very uncomfortable for the patient. 3D printing allows the prosthetist to create a prosthetic that is specific to the patient who will be using it, using his or her unique physical attributes as a guide. The result is a prosthetic that is more comfortable and useful for the patient because it was designed and created especially for him or her.
Bioprinting has been carried out with the 3D process. This involves the layering of living cells rather than an inorganic material such as plastic. Experiments with bioprinting have produced organs that are artificially produced, yet organic.
Bioprinting is still in the experimental stages, but it has very exciting implications for transplants. Theoretically, a patient could receive a replacement organ made from his or her own cells, reducing the risk of rejection.