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How 3D Printing Is Transforming The Medical Industry

How 3D Printing Is Transforming The Medical Industry

How 3D Printing Is Transforming The Medical Industry

3D printing is transforming the medical industry in many ways, but more importantly, it’s helping improve patient outcomes, improve economics and provide new opportunities for learning. Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News (APMEN) spoke to Mitchell Beness, Head of HP 3D Print GTM APJ on the impact of 3D printing and its outlook in Southeast Asia.

How is additive manufacturing transforming the medical industry?

Mitchell Beness (MD): Whether it’s to produce anatomical models, medical instruments and equipment or personalised medical aids such as orthotics and prosthetics, 3D printing has helped improve patient comfort and outcomes. 

Today, advanced 3D printing capabilities provide essential equipment and key insights to help educate and prepare care givers as well as patients. For example, HP Metal Jet technology enables production of high-quality surgical tools such as surgical scissors and endoscopic surgical jaws, and new applications and geometries not possible with conventional metal fabrication technologies. In addition, HP Multi Jet Fusion can provide doctors and surgeons with rich, detailed models, which makes it easier for doctors to differentiate tiny details such as veins and arteries when practicing the procedures as well as countless other medical, health and wellness applications.

In prosthetics and orthotics, 3D printing has helped both patients and businesses improve patient outcomes by producing complex, custom designs. 

The impact of 3D printing can also be seen in the recent COVID-19 pandemic, where global supply chains were upended like never before – hospitals were facing a lack of critical life-or death resources. For many, 3D printing was brought to their lives for the first time – with many of their introduction to 3D printing was via personal protective equipment (PPE) or testing equipment, like face shields or nasal swabs. 

3D printing is transforming the medical industry in many ways, but more importantly, it’s helping improve patient outcomes, improve economics and provide new opportunities for learning. 

What are the benefits of 3D printing in the medical industry?

MD: Advances in the 3D printing industry have enabled the industry to make any idea, large or small, simple or complex a reality. HP’s 3D printing solutions enable innovative designs and the production of high quality, cost effective personalised products.

We collaborate with various partners and customers to produce strong high-quality parts that are production ready. HP’s advanced industrial capabilities enable customers to reliably move designs from prototype to mass production. The COVID-19 response was a clear example on how the community came together from prototyping to quickly deploying solutions to first responders on the ground with face shields, masks, testing swabs and more. We also work with industry leaders such as Everex, an engineering company that creates unique and technologically advanced products for the needs of their customers in the medical industry. With the HP Multi Jet Fusion technology, Everex wanted to design a new type of instrument from their device, Hemo One that is used to analyse samples of blood. The Hemo One was previously produced using traditional methods but Everex wanted a design that would be easier to assemble with an eye on reducing cost. 

How has additive manufacturing helped in the fight against the pandemic? What are some innovations?

MD: Additive Manufacturing has definitely played its role in the fight against the pandemic, especially in helping plug the gaps in supply chain for personal protective equipment. At the start of the pandemic, HP mobilised a global effort to design and manufacture products that could be 3D printed to support frontliners and healthcare workers. We started working with employees across the company as well as customers to start sourcing designs and print parts that will help with COVID-19 efforts. 

As of May last year, HP together with our partners and clients has printed and shipped over 5 million 3D-printed parts for ventilators, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) respirators, face shields, masks and other personal accessories. Together with our partners, we’ve also made these 3D printable designs freely available to the community.

All in all, the industry has definitely stepped up to meet the demands of the pandemic through continuous knowledge sharing, plugging the supply chain gap, and working with government agencies and health experts in determining parts most in need. 

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