The medical industry has witnessed a significant transformation with the introduction of metal 3D printing. This innovative technology has enabled healthcare professionals to develop personalised solutions, improve patient outcomes, and push the boundaries of medical technology.
Custom metal 3D printing can be used to produce complex, patient-specific designs, as well as tools and devices with impressive mechanical properties. It is also faster than traditional manufacturing methods, and produces less material waste.
Read on to discover six major medical breakthroughs achieved with the help of 3D metal printing technology.
1. Customised Orthopaedic Implants
Metal 3D printing has been a game-changer in the field of orthopaedics, particularly in the production of customised joint replacements. It has enabled surgeons to design patient-specific implants (e.g. hip and knee replacements) that are tailored to an individual’s unique anatomy.
This has led to improved patient outcomes and reduced recovery times. Custom implants offer better biomechanical performance, resulting in increased patient comfort and reduced likelihood of complications post-surgery. In turn, this results in quicker rehabilitation.
2. Dental Implants and Restorations
Other groundbreaking uses for metal 3D printed parts can be seen in the dental industry. Technologies such as Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) allow dental professionals to quickly and easily create precise, customised crowns, bridges, and dental implants.
The use of custom 3D printing in the dental industry provides numerous benefits for both patients and dental professionals. Personalised dental restorations produced using this technology offer superior fit and comfort, ensuring patient satisfaction and reducing the likelihood of future dental interventions.
Additionally, 3D printed metal restorations exhibit exceptional durability, ensuring long-lasting results.
3. Surgical Instruments and Tools
Medical 3D printing methods have enabled the rapid, accurate production of complex and intricate surgical instruments. This includes highly precise forceps, scalpel handles, drill guides, endoscopic devices and other surgical tools with optimised ergonomic designs. These custom instruments can significantly improve a surgeon’s dexterity and precision during surgical procedures.
3D printing medical devices made from metal ensures enhanced functionality, durability, and ease of sterilisation. These characteristics are crucial in the medical industry, as they reduce the risk of infection and improve patient safety. In addition, metal 3D printed instruments can be designed with fewer seams and crevices, which facilitates thorough cleaning and sterilisation.
4. Spinal Implants and Fusion Devices
In recent years, 3D printing metal technology has been employed to manufacture bespoke intervertebral fusion cages. These custom implants are tailored to the patient’s spinal anatomy, ensuring optimal fit and compatibility with the surrounding bone structure.
The use of 3D printed metal spinal implants offers several advantages over traditional implants.
- Enhanced biocompatibility ensures better integration with the patient’s body
- Increased spinal stability reduces the risk of complications, such as implant migration or loosening
- Better alignment and load distribution, promoting successful fusion and long-term functionality
A variety of tough, durable and biocompatible metal 3d printing materials are available for these kinds of applications, such as titanium.
5. Medical Device Prototyping
3D metal printing accelerates the development of innovative medical devices by enabling rapid prototyping, testing, and design iteration. This streamlined process reduces the time it takes for new devices to reach the market, benefiting both healthcare professionals and patients.
Medical 3D printing of metal prototypes allows engineers and researchers to expedite the design process. Fast lead times mean that potential issues can be identified and rectified earlier in the development cycle, without long delays. This enables medical professionals to explore possibilities and drive innovation at an unprecedented pace, ultimately improving patient care and outcomes.
6. Biomedical Research and Drug Delivery Systems
3D printing medical tools, such as organ-on-a-chip and lab-on-a-chip systems, empowers cutting-edge studies in fields like tissue engineering and drug discovery. Their precision and versatility enable the production of highly complex devices, facilitating more accurate and efficient research.
For example, the application of 3D printing in the medical industry has led to the development of innovative implantable drug delivery systems. These devices provide controlled release of medications, resulting in improved patient compliance and treatment efficacy.
By utilising metal 3D printing, researchers can create intricate, customisable devices that can be tailored to specific patient needs or treatment regimens.
Why Choose LPE for Custom Metal 3D Printing?
At LPE, we offer an accurate, high-quality and cost-effective DMLS metal 3D printing service. We have over 30 years of experience working with medical designers in both rapid prototyping and low-volume production.
We provide both standard and high-resolution Direct Metal Laser Sintering services, with fast lead times of 5-10 days. A range of medical-grade materials are available, including biocompatible titanium alloys. We also provide a range of in-house post-processing options including medical-grade clean up, heat treatment, assembly, inserts and surface finishing.
To learn more about our custom 3D printing service and discuss your next project, contact LPE today. Alternatively, request a quote here.