Five ways 3D Printing will change healthcare

A new study of the potential for 3D printing in the healthcare industry predicts wide-ranging advancements and disruptions as the technology is adopted by more hospitals and manufacturers.

The report, published by Dr. Jason Chuen and Dr. Jasamine Coles-Black of Austin Health in Melbourne, Australia, outlines five key areas where 3D printing will likely have the biggest impact on healthcare.

Chuen, the director of vascular surgery at Austin Health and director of the hospital’s 3D medical printing laboratory, uses 3D-printed models of aortas to practice delicate surgeries.

“By using the model I can more easily assess that the stent is the right size and bends in exactly the right way when I deploy it,” said Dr. Chuen.

The five areas discussed in the report include:

1. Bioprinting and Tissue Engineering: Scientists are already building 3D-printed organoids to mimic human organs at a small scale, and the report predicts that eventually hospitals will be able to print human tissue structures that could eliminate the need for some transplants.

However, Chuen says that “Unless there is some breakthrough that enables us to keep the cells alive while we print them, then I think printing a full human organ will remain impossible. But where there is potential is in working out how to reliably build organoids or components that we could then bind together to make them function like an organ.”

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