What are the applications of 3D printing in the field of medical device manufacturing

3D printing greatly reduces the complexity of manufacturing by processing materials and stacking them layer by layer. Parts of various shapes can be generated directly from computer graphics data, so that manufacturing can be extended to a wider range of product groups. The medical field has now become a hot application field for 3D printing.


Medical equipment itself has strict precision attributes. Therefore, in recent years, the technical requirements for the production of medical equipment and parts in the industry have also increased.

In the production and matching process of medical parts, the precision and toughness of injection products ranging from large to hyperbaric oxygen chambers to small to hearing aids, medical buttons, anesthesia laryngoscopes, etc. are clearly required.

As one of the cutting-edge technologies, 3D printing has been widely used in medical device manufacturing, and its application value has been increasingly valued.

Since the implementation of the first batch of 3D printing medical device group standards in my country in July 2019, the application of medical 3D printing in my country has begun to take the fast lane.

On July 1, 2020, the second batch of 3D printing medical device standards in my country was officially implemented, and the gradual establishment of relevant regulations and standard systems also provided policy support for the industrial application of 3D printing technology medical devices.

Overall, the 3D printing industry chain includes five links: basic accessories, auxiliary operations, 3D printing equipment, 3D printing materials, and product applications.

The basic accessory layer includes chips, stepping motors, lasers, control circuit boards, printing nozzles, and galvanometer systems;

The auxiliary operation layer includes 3D scanners, control software, slicing software, and modeling software;

3D printing materials mainly include resin-based materials, Metal materials, and biological materials;

3D printing equipment mainly includes desktop printers and industrial printers;

3D printing applications mainly include industrial, military and civilian fields.

In terms of the breadth of application, from the rapid manufacture of medical models at the beginning to the direct manufacture of hearing aid shells, implants, complex surgical instruments, and 3D printed medicines by 3D printing, the medical use of 3D printing in China is no longer limited to a specific scene.

In terms of application depth, 3D printing of lifeless medical devices is developing towards the direction of printing biologically active organs and artificial tissues.

From the perspective of specific application scenarios, in the repair of knee anterior cruciate ligament injury, the doctor must first remove the remaining anterior cruciate ligament, and then accurately replace the transplanted ligament. To ensure precise and minimally invasive surgery, doctors need a sophisticated and special surgical tool.

Nickel-chromium-iron alloy from which this tool is made is a difficult-to-machine material, and it is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive to manufacture the surgical tool using traditional machining methods. In this case, it is more suitable to use metal 3D printing technology to manufacture.

A surgical guide is an important tool for doctors to assist in surgery. As a major tool for auxiliary surgery, 3D printed surgical guides are commonly used in practice. Generally speaking, as a powerful tool to achieve precision surgery, surgical guides are digitally designed and 3D printed based on 3D reconstruction and surgical simulation.

For 3D printing, printing different designs in succession does not imply new assembly costs, which enables auxiliary manufacturers to mass-customize various medical parts.

In terms of cost, 3D printing not only benefits the production process, but the cost of adopting the technology itself is also cheaper than other manufacturing methods. Low-cost FDM printers, for example, can be purchased for a few hundred dollars and can be freely designed in a wide variety of products.

According to the analysis of market research institutions, from 2015 to 2020, the global 3D printing medical device market has been growing at a compound annual growth rate of 25.3% and will reach 7.33 billion US dollars by 2020.

Such a huge market space has also attracted many investors to enter. The launch of high-quality 3D printing medical devices will also bring rich market benefits and valuable development opportunities to related companies.

The current era has entered a new wave of industrial upgrading. In the context of the increasingly mature development of information, intelligence, and digital technologies, 3D printing, as an important technology, is applied in industry, medical care, and architecture. The economic and cultural development of all countries in the world has brought new impetus.

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