The number of hospitals with in-house 3D printing facilities has grown drastically in the last decade. According to a Statista report, in 2010 there were only three hospitals equipped with centralized 3D facilities for point-of-care manufacturing. In 2019, there were 113. A reason that explains this growth is the success this technology has shown in improving surgical techniques. Through the development of organ models, bone and joint implants, and precision instruments, 3D printing is approaching a critical juncture in healthcare. In fact, this revolutionary technology offers so many opportunities that it may also be used to manufacture medications, skin tissue and organs.
What is 3D printing and how does it work?
Using additive manufacturing, three-dimensional (3D) printing turns a computer design into a tangible product. Thin layers of liquid or powdered plastic, metal, or cement are applied, and the layers are fused together to complete the process.
The productivity of production has already grown with the introduction of 3D printing technology. If it can be effectively implemented into mass production processes, it has the potential to significantly disrupt the manufacturing, transportation, and inventory management sectors in the long run.
At the moment, 3D printing isn’t fast enough for mass manufacturing. On the other hand, the lead time for developing part and device prototypes and the necessary tooling has been shortened thanks to technology. Small-scale producers greatly benefit from this as it lowers their expenses and shortens the time it takes for a product to be developed and put on the market. In addition, 3D printing has shown great promise in the healthcare area.
Applications of 3D printing in healthcare
So far, 3D printing has been successfully used to produce implants and prosthetics. A 2021 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons concluded that the healing of bone and cartilage has been greatly influenced by 3D printing, which also has the potential to totally change how we care for patients with crippling musculoskeletal injuries. This technology has also been used to produce anatomical models to assist surgeons in complex procedures; and also to produce medical equipment at a lower price which can be easily modified depending on the surgeon’s needs.
According to ScienceAdvances, in 2019, bioengineers from the University of Washington School of Medicine and the UW College of Engineering created a ground-breaking 3D method for bioprinting tissues. This achievement, together with 3D technologies developed by the University of California Berkeley and other institutions, offers hope for the production of living human tissue, blood vessels, bones, and organs on demand.
Some companies developing 3D printing technology
Innovative solutions for the printing sector are provided by Polymaker, a provider of 3D printing materials. Founded in 2012 in the Netherlands, the performance, dependability, and beauty of 3D printed things are all improved by the company’s products, which vary from filaments and resins to additives and coatings. With a number of environmentally friendly materials and programs to cut down on waste in 3D printing, Polymaker places a significant emphasis on sustainability.
Without a doubt, Multiply Labs represents the future of producing customized medications. They have created robotic technologies that allow for the automated creation of tailored medications in order to hasten the development of the future’s individualized medicines.
This year, they also began developing robots to increase access to cell treatments by automating the production of such medicines. Additionally, they think robotics will play a major role in pharmaceutical manufacture since it is the only way to ensure that every patient receives a therapy that is customized to meet his or her individual needs.
Open Bionics is establishing a company in Bristol by 3D manufacturing children’s prosthetic limbs. They have developed a a sophisticated, lightweight bionic arm that is 3D printed. It has multi-grip capability and a powerful appearance. For those with a limb difference below the elbow, it is currently accessible in more than 800 sites in the USA, UK, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. It was designed and produced in the UK. Appropriate for both adults and kids as young as eight.
Stratasys claims that it is still evolving and that its founder built one of the earliest 3D printers. The company’s technology offers solutions for a range of sectors, including as consumer goods, healthcare, and aerospace.
The firm offers solutions for large-scale production that may be utilized in digital manufacturing in addition to producing desktop 3D printers.
Initiatives to invest in 3D printing technology
FABulous is a 3D printing accelerator that has aided in the innovation and expansion of over 100 European businesses. It offers funding from the EU.
Over the course of two years, FABulous has developed and maintained a 3D printing technology ecosystem. Through the accelerator, entrepreneurs and innovators in the fields of design, manufacturing, logistics, and content-based services have been able to connect with investors, coaches, and the necessary technology and infrastructure.
Participating in the program are over 100 web entrepreneurs, startups, and SMEs from 20 different countries. They have had access to money, mentoring, pitching events, technical training and support, and more via the FABulous accelerator.
The accelerated program has led to the establishment of 15 new businesses and the creation of 131 new jobs. Additionally, 26 of the firms have received more money, and several of them have established successful relationships with businesses like Siemens, Thales, Audi, or Fujitsu, or won pertinent prizes.
AM Ventures has closed the first-ever venture capital fund devoted to industrial 3D printing.
The business teams up with KGAL, one of the top independent asset and investment managers in Europe for real capital investments, together with its largest shareholder, the LANGER GROUP.
The fund approaches 50% of the intended commitment with the first closure. The fund’s primary goal will remain to bolster worldwide support for industrial 3D printing firms in the seed and early growth stages of hardware, software, materials, and applications.