3D Printing is an Embodiment of Personalized Health Care

David MacCutcheon
November 15, 2016

3D printing is a perfect use case for personalized Health Care.  Though there are many barriers to implementing and cost justifying the adoption of 3D printing, it will be personalized Health Care that pushes this technology over the finish line and into mainstream practice.  Expensive 3D printing hardware, complex secondary segmentation and printer specific software and the need for professional services assistance have slowed the adoption of 3D printing in healthcare.  As with any disruptive technology it takes simplification to achieve widespread acceptance.  With over 85 3D printed  medical devices currently cleared by the FDA* and countless universities rushing to provide printing service for varying use cases, we are still sitting at the bottom of the growth curve for 3D printing and realizing its full potential because these initial barriers have not been overcome. The push to create Centralized 3D Printing labs** has raised the visibility and access to the next step, but never solved the initial challenges.

IMG_4827.jpgThink “Amazon” and how it changed the way you search and transact for virtually any purchase you may make.  We have now reached a point where the high initial investments and complexities can be overcome by using a similar E-Commerce methodology to give widespread access to highly accurate multicolor and multi material 3D Printed Models.  At the core of this solution is the idea that ”what you see is what you get” WYSIWIG, and allowing the medical professionals to use their existing tools for rendering and segmentation that are already part of the diagnostic imaging process.  There should be no need for conversion to an STL file with reduced resolution, complex masking and other associated limitations.  TeraRecon, a leader in Medical Advanced Visualization in partnership with Whiteclouds, a global leader in 3D Model printing is delivering non-diagnostic color sandstone models of remarkable quality using such a straight-to-print solution today.  This partnership is just one example to the commitment to improve the quality of care provided around the world by both companies. 

Many new functional implants, pre-surgical models, printing methodologies and materials have already been cleared by the FDA. We will see this industry further expand as further innovation is made in creating functional structures that leverage increasing architectural complexity.  With further research and development of “scaffolding” and “extrusion” printing, it is now more science than science fiction to believe that 3D printed organs may help fill the gap created by a shortage of donor organs.***

*http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/3DPrintingofMedicalDevices/default.htm
**http://www.diagnosticimaging.com/rsna-2015/radiology-needs-own-3d-printing
***http://medicalphysicsweb.org/cws/article/research/64212

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