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The new development direction of “3D printing + medical treatment”

In recent years, 3D printing technology has been widely explored and clinically practiced in the medical field. In particular, 3D printing technology has been used in orthopedic fields such as knee joint bone defect treatment, femoral head necrosis, cervical and lumbar diseases, etc., helping many patients who cannot walk normally to regain their ability to walk normally. “Go back” to healthy living.

Application of 3D printing in medical field

1. Drugs
By adding a container containing chemicals to the 3D printer, the 3D printer can synthesize the medicines required by the user. This will greatly reduce the cost of drug production and reduce the burden on patients.

2. Medical model
3D printed medical models allow doctors to intuitively see the three-dimensional structure of the surgical site before surgery, helping doctors plan surgical plans. Especially for complex surgeries, it helps reduce surgical risks and improve the success rate of surgeries.

3. Implants
Personalized customized artificial bones are in particularly high demand in clinical applications. This is due to the irregular shape of human bones and the large differences in individual shapes. The BIOMED Institute of the University of Hasselt in Belgium printed and transplanted the patient’s mandible using laser-assisted 3D printing technology. Huang Huajun of Southern Medical University and others collected CT data of clinically complex tibial plateau fracture cases and commonly used tibial plateau steel plates, performed three-dimensional fracture reconstruction, virtual reduction, and established a three-dimensional steel plate model library, and then digitally designed an internal fixation plan. The fracture reduction model and steel plate model were 3D printed, and the surgery was simulated according to the digitally designed internal fixation plan on the 3D model. The results showed that 3D printing technology combined with digital design can effectively improve the internal fixation implantation effect of complex tibial plateau fractures.
Bone defects, maxillofacial injuries, skull repairs, etc. caused by bone tumors, car accidents, etc. cannot be treated with general repair products, and 3D printing products provide effective solutions. These printed prostheses can not only be based on the patient’s own features but are tailor-made and manufactured. Moreover, 3D printing technology can print a bionic trabecular bone microporous structure integrated with the implant, which is conducive to the ingrowth of human bones.
4. Tissues and organs
3D printed artificial organ printers are divided into three categories: inkjet artificial organ printing, micro-extrusion artificial organ printing and laser-assisted artificial organ printing, based on their working principles. Each of these three types of printers has advantages and disadvantages in printing regenerative tissues and organs. Although the currently emerging bio-3D printed organs are not organs with complete functions and complete structures, they have begun to play a role in the fields of drug screening testing and disease research. The use of 3D printed organs and tissues can effectively improve the success rate of drug screening.
5. Oral cavity
The digital dental technology of 3D printing brings the advantages of high precision, low cost, high efficiency to the dental industry, as well as dental data that is consistent with the standardized production chain. Reduce the time doctors spend manually making dental products such as models and dentures, and return their energy to diagnosing oral diseases and performing oral surgeries themselves. For dental technicians, although they are far outside the doctor’s office, as long as they obtain the patient’s oral data, they can customize precise dental products according to the doctor’s requirements.

6. Equipment manufacturing
The potential of metal 3D printing technology in the field of medical devices has gone beyond prototypes to undertake the manufacturing tasks of complex surgical instruments. For example, in surgery to repair anterior cruciate ligament damage in the knee joint, doctors need to use a precise and special surgical tool to ensure precise and minimally invasive surgery. The nickel-chromium-iron alloy from which this tool is made is a difficult-to-machine material, and manufacturing the surgical tool using traditional machining methods is difficult, time-consuming, and costly. In this case, it is more suitable to use 3D printing technology for manufacturing.

3D printing medical application prospects
Compared with foreign countries, my country’s 3D printing industry is in a period of rapid development with huge market potential. With the development of personalized medicine and the implementation of national medical insurance policies, the demand for 3D printing products will increase dramatically.

On December 5, 2017, the CFDA issued the “Guidance on the Manufacturing of 3D Printed Medical Devices” to provide medical device manufacturers with suggestions on 3D printing technology. It also pointed out what manufacturers need to include when submitting 3D printed medical devices for approval. The content includes thoughts on various 3D printing methods, equipment design, functionality, durability testing, and quality system requirements. This is another move to promote the further development of 3D printed medical equipment after the CFDA issued draft guidance on 3D printing for medical manufacturers in May last year. At the same time, this also reflects the country’s emphasis on and practice of 3D printing, an important emerging technology.

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