Medical 3D printing is becoming popular. Its application is in the 3D printing industry is unprecedented in what it can make. It uses data from a digital file to create successive layers material in various forms - sheet material, powders, liquids - to fabricate a form from a series of cross-sections. A digital file, a printer, the right material programmed correctly, and most any complex form or geometrical feature can be created.
A New Age of Biomaterials
Biomaterials, however, are unique in that they are biologically suitable and compatible to contact with human physiology. Natural or synthetic biomaterials interact with human fluid and are used to create products that can be used in organ replacement or compensate wounded soft body tissues safely and acceptably. Thus, biomaterials may be 3D printed to create forms as complex as human skin, veins, medical implants, and many other forms – never thought possible.
Biomaterials are classified into four groups based on their chemical composition, comprising metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites. Metallic biomaterials are commonly employed in dentistry and orthopedic applications due to their outstanding mechanical properties. Metallic biomaterials have lately been engaged in non-osseous tissues, in addition to their critical role in reconstructive surgery. Furthermore, ceramic biomaterials have remarkable mechanical qualities and excellent wear resistance, wettability, and biocompatibility. Unlike most metals, ceramics are heat resistant.
One unique application worth noting is the recent development of biogels, also called hydrogels, used with 3D printing to create unique organic forms. It's unprecedented research lead by a team from the Department of Applied Science and Technology at the Italian University Politecnico di Torino. The team's research has demonstrated the possibility of manufacturing hydrogels with complex architectures capable of self-healing following a laceration, thanks to 3D printing activated by light.
Ignazio Roppolo, one of the team's lead researchers, says his team is dedicated to the development of new materials that can be processed using 3D printing activated by light. "3D printing is able to offer a synergistic effect between the design of the object and the intrinsic properties of materials, making possible to obtain manufactured items with unique features," he explains. "From our perspective, we need to take advantage of this synergy to best develop the capabilities of 3D printing, so that this can truly become an element of our everyday life. And this research falls right in line with this philosophy".
Putting Innovation to Work in Modern Medicine
3D printing with biogels and other materials is increasingly used in various applications in the health field of personalized patient care, education, research, and training.
3D printing has been incorporated into the field of surgery to gain an improved knowledge of complex core anomalies. It can aid with pre-surgical planning and increase and facilitate diagnostic quality. Initial trials in neurosurgery, pelvic surgery , spine surgery, visceral surgery, cardiovascular surgery showed a considerable perfection in treatment or diagnosis due to more extraordinary three-dimensional interpretation of diseased structure, high precision, and the feasibility of planning. It can result in a reduced operation time and thus enable the operating rooms to be used economically.
3D printing is also used in the manufacture of medical prosthetic devices and implants. The 3D technique's potential relies on the ability to create personalized prostheses. The 3D printing technology has been used to restore many anatomical structures, particularly in the surgery of the face. Other surgical sites that could benefit from the prototyping process include femoral, hip, and knee joint repair. It is advantageous not just for repairing bone but also for the replacement of soft tissues because various materials may be quickly prototyped.
Advancing Medical Research with 3D Printing
3D printing is a new tool in the frontier of medical research. It assists in highlighting physiological processes that aren't entirely understandable and improved knowledge of complicated disorders. To imitate the elastic qualities of vessels, compliant models can be made from materials like silicone or polyurethane.
Because medical operations demand a solid understanding of human anatomy and the relationship between different anatomical features on a topographical level 3D printing adds much value to to prepare for complex surgery. Before operating on the patient, it is preferable to get more knowledge and knowledge in particular interest. 3D learning is enhanced by rapid prototyping objects, especially in anatomical and pathological states challenging to understand. Furthermore, training surgeons on basic surgical procedures and patient-specific techniques in challenging conditions increases overall skills and outcomes.
For modern medicine and its innovative embrace on new scientific developments and breakthroughs, 3D printing is smack dab in the center of it all, with a bright future. 3d printing is using the virtual world of digital design to influence the real world and solve real problems. For the medical community, solving such problems often means performing things once thought impossible, and now making them possible.