3d printing

This 3D printer will change health care forever

The Mayo Clinic printed a 3D model of a girl’s pelvis, which shows her bladder, veins, blood vessels, ureters and the tumor. Now members of the medical team were able to hold this model in their hands. It allows them to remove the entire tumor without taking her leg. This new working method is changing health care.

“The model helped us to understand the anatomy that was altered by the tumor and helped us to orient ourselves for our cuts around it,” says Peter Rose, the surgeon who performed the operation.

The pelvis model was one of about 500 3D printed models created at the Mayo Clinic last year. These models create a way to improve health care!

How 3D printing is changing health care

3D printers create objects, using materials ranging from plastics to metal to human tissue. Normally the printers are being used in health care to create dental and medical implants, prosthetics, hearing aids and even human skin.

In 2019 a lot of people in the developed world will be living with 3D printed items on or in their bodies. 3D printing will be a central tool for the future.

The technology has been around since the 1980s. Five years ago, the 3D printers made by Stratasys could print in one or two materials. Now they can print six materials and create more than 360,000 combinations of textures and colours.

Future aspects of 3D printing

One of the areas in which the technology may hold promise is in the manufacturing of drugs. Printing whole organs, such as kidneys are future aspects which are comparable with the Search of the Holy Grail.

But researchers at the University Carlos III of Madrid worked in coorparation with BioDan to print human skin to eventually help burn victims and other skin injuries and diseases.

Engineers are required to transform dense digital images from MRI,CT and ultrasound scans into information that can be printed into a 3D model. But it isn’t just a single click on a button. To print a model such as this pelvis, it took 60 hours.

The 3D printing transformation impact

However, despite the long printing time, 3D printing is a good method and the first step to improve health care and to try new and more efficient ways. The problem with a long printing time will also be tackled in the future. So we can be very curious about how this method will develop in the future.

But the 3D printing in health care could have the transformation impact of the internet or cloud computing a few years ago.

Source Cover Image: iStock/ Cecilie_Arcurs