Additive Manufacturing for Medical Device Production

Additive manufacturing is a technique used for manufacturing rapid prototypes as well as functional parts. The use of additive manufacturing in the medical industry has increased in the recent years owing to technological advancements. With the rising adoption of additive manufacturing in the healthcare sector, the scope for customization and innovation of medical devices has increased considerably over the last few years.

Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, holds great potential to transform the conventional process of manufacturing of medical products and components. Additive manufacturing allows companies to provide extensive customization based on the individual patient requirements for medical applications. This helps save time and efforts by allowing the manufacturing of medical devices and implants that are ideal fit for patient’s needs. The technique helps overcome the constraints of traditional manufacturing methods—mainly associated with the mass customization; fabrication; milling, casting, and forging; and so on.

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Medical device manufacturers are using 3D printing to create products that were previously impossible to make. Other products can be personalized to a specific patient or treatment. Engineers can create parts from plastic, metal, ceramics, silicone and other materials.

Additive manufacturing “prints” solid objects from a digital file by depositing one layer of material on top of another, rather than starting with a solid piece of material that is cut and shaped. It allows companies to more easily manufacture complex shapes and structures that have typically been difficult to make with traditional plastic-injection molding or machining methods. There’s also less waste, which results in shorter setup times and lower material costs.

In the medical device industry, 3D printing enables manufacturers to create customized products that cater to individual patient needs. Engineers are using the technology to produce a wide variety of products, including fixtures, guides, hearing aids, prosthetics, surgical tools, orthopedic implants and anatomical models for pre-surgery applications.

The dental industry has also jumped on the additive manufacturing bandwagon. In fact, demand for applications ranging from dentures to orthodontic aligners is expected to skyrocket over the next decade.

Additive manufacturing is majorly beneficial in medical fields such as production of new orthopedic products, fabrication of customized maxillofacial prostheses, and casting of dental implants. Further, it is also receiving attention as a method used in biomedical modeling and organ printing. The increase in demand for additive manufacturing has encouraged medical device manufacturing companies to invest significantly in the development of commercial models and reduction of the cost of modeling. Leading medical device market players have uniquely positioned themselves to benefit from the advances offered by additive manufacturing. For instance, in May 2018, Medtronic announced development of the TiONIC Technology, which is a new 3D printed technique that helps tobuild enhanced surface techniques for designing of medical devices.

3D Systems, Inc., GE Additives,Materialise NV, 3T Additive Manufacturing Limited, Renishawplc, Stratasys Ltd, Vaupell, Inc.,Precision ADM Inc, EOS GmbH, and Allevi, Inc. are among the leading companies operating in the medical device additive manufacturing market.

Source: The Insight Partners