5 observations on how 3D printing is transforming the medical device industry

Written by Megan Wood | October 12, 2016 | Print  |

3D printing has permeated the medical device manufacturing industry, with companies developing customized implants, prosthetics, casts and teeth, according to Med Device Online. With 85 3D-printed devices already approved by the FDA, how is 3D printing transforming the medical device space?

Here are five observations:


1. A PwC survey found 30 percent of manufacturers think 3D printing will cause the greatest disruption in supply chains. The industry will likely see supply chains shrinking, since 3D printing allows manufacturing of parts at the needed time and place. Therefore, manufacturers will no longer be bogged down with "carrying costs of raw materials, work-in-progress and finished goods," according to Med Device Online. This may also mean the end of stocking locations, which will put a strain on manufacturers' distribution partners.


2. 3D printing also offers speedy, low-cost prototyping. This quick prototyping slashes the time previously required for prototyping creation via traditional manufacturing processes. Therefore, engineers and product managers will receive a more flexible time frame and budget to churn out new devices. Research and development relationships will shift, as companies are able to present technologies to market faster.


3. The manufacturing aspect of 3D printing may face a few obstacles, as they may not comply with quality systems. However, 3D printing allows manufacturers to create shapes that were previously unfeasible. Device manufacturers may be wise to offer health facilities on-site 3D printers, so physicians can print customized implants right in their offices.


4. Customized implants will likely boost patient outcomes and patient satisfaction. Surgeons may also enjoy customized surgical tools, printed to their patients' perfect fit.


5. The combination of materials involved in 3D printing presents a whole new era of medical technology. The technique allows integrating sensors into implants as well as combining materials into organic forms for patient-unique measurements.


More articles on devices:
North America dominates expansive medical implants market — 6 takeaways
North America, Europe lead orthopedic imaging market through 2026: 5 notes
Quantum computing, robotics & more — Which technologies will change healthcare by 2025?

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