Affordable 3D printed medical devices hit the market


Medical prints made with Formlabs 3D printers [Photo courtesy of Formlabs]

The accessibility and affordability of 3D printers is allowing small device companies to develop and market a wave of custom devices.

Gaurav Manchanda, Formlabs

Healthcare is becoming more efficient and patients are beginning to expect a personalized approach. 3D printing is not a recent manufacturing technology, but it has reached an inflection point to bring changes in medical and dental applications.

Traditionally, 3D printing has been prohibitively expensive and only available to the largest and best-resourced medical centers and device manufacturers. But nowadays, 3D printers have become more affordable and accessible. As a result, additive manufacturing is booming in healthcare as medical providers and device manufacturers harness the ability to safely produce new, patient-specific, biocompatible and sterilizable parts.

As 3D printing becomes the method of choice for an increasing number of medical devices, implants, surgical guides, orthotics, prostheses, and other medical applications, medical device companies and manufacturers need to consider technology for the commercialization of end-use parts.

The Path to Commercialization of 3D Printing in Healthcare

Medical products made with SLS 3D printing

Medical products made with SLS 3D printing [Photo courtesy of Formlabs]

The healthcare industry has begun to embrace 3D printing, a trend that is expected to grow as providers and manufacturers implement personalized care, create new medical devices and improve patient education. In addition, there is the development of technologies to improve the production of parts, provide new materials and reduce production time.

3D printing manufacturers and healthcare leaders are teaming up to advance additive manufacturing. Leading group purchasing organization (GPO) Vizient has listed a 3D printing company in its catalog for the first time, and other partnerships are accelerating the delivery of life-changing medical devices while maintaining regulatory compliance.

This industry support goes hand-in-hand with advancements enabling new applications and faster workflows, further advancing 3D printing towards commercialization in healthcare. Beyond 3D printing hardware and software, materials are also a critical component in advancing the commercialization of 3D printing in space.

A variety of medical products made by 3D printing

3D printed medical products made with BioMed resins [Photo courtesy of Formlabs]

Healthcare providers, manufacturers and institutions need biocompatible and sterilizable materials such as BioMed Clear, BioMed White and BioMed Black resins. These materials are manufactured in an ISO 13485 certified, FDA registered facility and are designed for applications requiring contact with skin, blood, tissue, dentin, mucous membranes, or gaseous pathways in healthcare. They are also compatible with common solvent disinfection and sterilization methods. Designed with patient safety in mind, these SLA materials – and biocompatible nylon materials for an SLS printer – are essential to the creation of medical devices, surgical instruments, surgical guides and new innovations in research. revolutionary medicine.

Designing 3D printing technology with healthcare commercialization in mind will allow the industry to more quickly reach the end goal of improving patient care. Small and large medical manufacturers have started creating medical devices, dentures, implants, prosthetics and more using 3D printing.

Small businesses already selling devices

Small companies are commercializing 3D-printed medical devices — including surgical instruments, inhalers, smart prosthetic hands, metabolic analysis masks and more — and can lead the way. Companies using 3D printing for manufacturing and prototyping can develop innovative new treatments and devices that are patient-friendly while remaining affordable.

Medical device company Coalesce Product Development (recently acquired by Novartis) uses 3D printing to develop new affordable drug delivery devices such as inhalers and injectors for generic inhalers that offer significantly greater value to branded alternatives that can cost upwards of $380 per month.

Another company, Restor3d, brings the benefits of 3D printing to surgery. Stainless steel instruments traditionally go into more than 132,000 anterior cervical discectomy and fusion procedures performed each year in the United States. But these instruments had high initial and ongoing inventory costs and often presented complications in the surgical workflow. Restor3d uses the design freedom and constant improvement enabled by 3D printing to change the way spine surgeons operate and improve the delivery of surgical care. The company’s first 3D-printed, procedure-specific polymer instruments for foot, ankle and cervical spine implants were fabricated from a combination of 3D-printed metal and polymer parts, which has allowed hospitals to reduce sterilization and inventory costs.

A 3D printed medical device

The 3D printed tension square [Photo courtesy of Formlabs]

The medical device industry has also started to see applications of 3D printed parts outside of the human body. Mychael Overstreet – a veteran, firefighter and paramedic – used 3D printing to create Tension Square, a wearable device that securely holds a needle decompression catheter in place while preventing damaging kinks, kinks or dislodgements and fatalities preventable in the field due to pneumothorax or collapsed lungs. With no formal engineering background, relied on 3D printing to test and finalize his design, allowing him to try a mix of materials to achieve a durable, precise, lightweight, skin-safe, and long-lasting design that is marketed with SLS 3D printers. .

These companies and innovators have successfully commercialized 3D printed end-use parts as the technology stack is now more accessible than ever. Industry collaboration will allow medical device companies to learn from these early examples to chart their own path to commercialization and improve patient outcomes, reduce costs and improve efficiency.

Design medical devices with 3D printing

Formlabs 3D Printers

Formlabs 3D Printers [Photo courtesy of Formlabs]

Using 3D printing to create commercial health devices has become an achievable goal, but it’s not yet the norm. Companies can approach 3D print design and production to deliver precision healthcare in healthcare facilities and create new medical devices by:

Gaurav Manchanda is Director of Medical Market Development at Formlabs. [Photo courtesy of Formlabs]

Gaurav Manchanda, director of medical market development at Formlabs, launched and leads the medical division of the 3D printing company, where his goal is to advance 3D printing in the healthcare sector by combining technology from clinically validated 3D printing and in-house QA/AR expertise. , affordable prices and a wide range of materials. Manchanda is leading the development of the 3D printing market in priority segments including medical devices, point-of-care, orthotics and prosthetics, medical education and life sciences.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect those of or its employees.

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