The medical field has witnessed some recent breakthroughs in several treatments and technology, but there is something that will change the way medicine is practiced in the future. 3D printing isn’t just limited to producing plastic and aluminum parts anymore. Although this has helped many industries and poverty stricken countries produce expensive products for cheap, the medical industry will soon impact the lives of many through the new capabilities of 3D printing.
Medical equipment is very expensive and can be unobtainable in areas with low or no income. 3D printers are about to change this issue, for good. A company by the name of iLab in Haiti has already produced several types of medical equipment including umbilical chord clamps for local hospitals around Haiti. These hospitals would not be able to afford this equipment without these state of the art printers. This can promote greater health in newborn babies not only in Haiti, but also across the globe. It may seem like a small advancement, but this can potentially decrease the mortality rate in more individuals than just newborns, and that alone is huge.
3D printing has taken a futuristic turn that has changed the way traumatic head injuries will be addressed in the future. Instead of titanium screws and plates, scientists have created a solution to this issue by recreating the exterior bone structure outside of the cranium with 3D printed plastic parts. Several cases have already been successful in various places around the world including China and Slovakia. This can provide a greater solution to some of the most severe head injuries.
Heart Valves & Tissue
A scientist at Cornell University has produced a heart valve that will soon be tested on sheep to observe the efficiency of the valve itself. The heart valve was printed with realistic features including smooth muscle cells and valve interstitial cells that will control valves stiffness. Researchers are awaiting the results of the test before they implement them in actual humans and if this method works, this will give individuals with heart valve issues a second and greater chance at life.
As far as the tissue is concerned, researchers at Harvard University have been working on bio printing blood vessels that can consist of the same properties within actual skin. This has the potential to positively impact melanoma victims and individuals who have experienced severe burns. Their custom printer produces a tissue like substance that has skin cells entwined with other materials to produce functional blood vessels.
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