How will 3D printing progress in 10 years? 3 Spine surgeons discuss

Alan Condon -   Print  |

Three spine and neurosurgeons discuss the future of 3D printing and what they hope it will achieve. 

Ask Spine Surgeons is a weekly series of questions posed to spine surgeons around the country about clinical, business and policy issues affecting spine care. We invite all spine surgeon and specialist responses.

Next week's question: What is your opinion on the use of stem cell-based therapies in spine? 

Please send responses to Alan Condon at by Wednesday, March 11, 5 p.m. CST.

Note: The following responses were edited for length and clarity.

Question: What advances do you hope to see in 3D printing in the next five to 10 years?

Brian Gantwerker, MD. Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles: We have already seen some amazing 3D titanium products on the market. We will inevitably see more 3D-printed expandable implants. It is already possible, but there are technical and cost issues. 

In a decade or less, we might see in-room, custom implants, much like products that can custom bend a rod. 3D printing will also be available in other materials, like PEEK and titanium. Custom implants will be shown to perform better than off-the shelf ones. Perhaps outcomes will be better as well. The market forces will expand choices and hopefully encourage quality research and development into this space as demand for better implants increases.

James Chappuis, MD. Spine Center Atlanta: I hope to see custom interbody implants and corpectomy devices in 3D printing available in the operating room during a given procedure. In short, custom-fit implants in the operating room.

Harel Deutsch, MD. Rush University (Chicago): I believe that use of multiple materials in 3D printing will allow more complex designs.

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