The 3D Printing Revolution
For most of industrial history, the assembly line has dominated manufacturing across all sectors and nations. Today, 3D printing stands to rob the assembly line of its prestigious position as the primary means of production. 3D printing, at its simplest level, synthesizes objects of any shape and material by using spray jets to deposit said material layer by layer, until a completed object of substantial length, width, and height has been created.
The potential for 3D printing to revolutionize the world of medicine has recently begun to flourish with improvements in printing precision, speed, and cost. 3D printing appears to many to be the future of biomedical engineering—and biomedical engineers have already begun to experiment with its many possible uses.
• Common prosthetics are bulky and expensive
• 3D printing makes prosthetic design faster and cheaper
• Modern 3D printed designs focus on using high-strength, low-weight, aesthetically appealing structures
• 3D printing has recently been used to create bone-replacement implants
• The implants are made with stiff, durable, bone-like materials
• The latest models of such implants are osteoconductive, promoting bone-growth
• 3D printing is currently being used to create small drug-delivery devices
• 3D printed pharmaceuticals have the potential to decentralize the industry
• Medicinal chemists are looking forward to 3D printers that can synthesize drugs on the microscopic level
• Models of organs and tissue are synthesized to give surgeons practice
• These models are highly personalized, based on data from CT and fMRI scanning