Additive manufacturing, otherwise known as 3D printing, was first developed in the 1980s. It involves taking a digital model or blueprint of the subject that is then printed in successive layers of an appropriate material to create a new version of the subject. The technique has been applied to many different industries, including medical technology. Often medical imaging techniques, such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and ultrasounds are used to produce the original digital model, which is subsequently fed into the 3D printer .
Global 3D Printing Healthcare Market was valued at $579.0 million in 2014, and is expected to garner $2,319.5 million by 2020, registering a CAGR of 26.2% during the forecast period 2015-2020. 3D printing technology is a rapid emerging technology, which empowers manufacturers in the medical sector to produce customized medical equipment and products . Also, it has been forecast that 3D printing in the medical field will be worth $3.5bn by 2025. The industry’s compound annual growth rate is supposed to reach 17.7% between 2017 and 2025 .
Every year, 3D printing offers more and more promise in the healthcare field. And while the ultimate goal of printing whole complex organs for transplants may still be decades away, 3D printing is helping to save and improve lives in ways – and in places – never imagined just a few years ago .
Point-of-Care 3D Printing
Point-of-Care (POC) 3D printing refers to just-in-time 3D-printed medical equipment, such as anatomical models, manufactured directly at hospitals: the place of care. Typically, POC 3D printing uses a patient’s medical imaging data like MRIs, CTs or surface scans. 3D printing at the point-of-care, as opposed to using external 3D printing services, allows clinicians to create patient-specific anatomical models more rapidly than previously possible while also leveraging the subspecialty knowledge available within the hospital. Ultimately, this reduces the lead time for models, which in turn enables more patients to benefit. At the same time, it also expands the different applications in which the technology may be applied .