Very few up-and-coming innovations excite people the way 3-D printing does, whether you’re talking about its current capabilities or its amazing potential. Now that technology has met “soft” needs such as communication and information-gathering, the next step is creating technology capable of manipulating the physical world — a capability that 3-D printing in medicine seems to already display.
The technology is already simplifying, expediting, and improving medicine in astounding ways, and has even more impressive advancements on the horizon. Here are a few current and upcoming medical takes on 3-D printing technology:
In present days, people with access to the right technology enjoy the luxury to log into any number of repositories, print the correct pieces, and assemble an affordable prosthetic limb or extremity on their own time. What looks like a simple accomplishment is a solution to a serious problem: A $50 3-D-printed hand can offer a similar level of performance as a traditionally fitted and manufactured prosthetic can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and numerous other benefits as well.
Amputees can print and use a number of different pieces for a variety of situations — driving, household use, physical activity, etc. when a 3-D-printed prosthetic can be manufactured at a fraction of the cost of a traditionally-manufactured prosthetic, and experiment with different models to see what works best. Additionally, 3-D printing prosthetics will improve the convenience and efficiency of furnishing amputees with prosthetics and help drastically reduce the time spent on fitting and measuring.
The best part of 3-D printing devices is that it is predicted to follow the usual technological pattern of advancement, i.e., smaller sizes and lower costs. In doing so, access to prosthetics will ultimately increase, especially in areas that already have limited access to quality healthcare such as rural areas and warzones. As the to and costs of this technology will improve, so will the limbs themselves as printing processes, designs, and materials evolve alongside the manufacturing technology.
Keep watching this space to know more about such advancements in medical technology that 3-D printing has brought.