5. 3D printing3D printing, or additive manufacturing, has been around for decades. But it was only in the 2010s that medical device designers truly embraced it as an effective prototyping tool. Now it holds the promise to also enable the creation of customized medical devices.
3D printing company Carbon, for example, has a business partnership with Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) to develop “digitally printed material that serves a mechanical function in the body, but after a few months it’s fully bio-absorbed and transitions to your own tissue,” Carbon co-founder and executive chairman Joseph DeSimone told CNBC in November.
More than 100,000 hip cups have been made in Arcam printers and implanted in patients, according to GE Additive’s Arcam business. Smith & Nephew (NYSE:SNN) for the past few years has had its 3D-printed titanium Redapt revision acetabular fully porous cup with Conceloc technology. Stryker (NYSE:SYK) has invested heavily in 3D printing research, with the technology supporting its Trident II hip cup and much more.
“Next-generation approaches include Tissium‘s high-resolution 3D printing platform that harnesses fully synthetic, biomorphic and programmable polymers to create implantable devices that can guide tissue growth,” said serial medtech entrepreneur Jeff Karp, a professor of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
On top of customized medical devices, 3D-printed models are becoming an important presurgical planning tool. At Mayo Clinic, for example, the health provider’s Anatomical Modeling Lab makes thousands of models a year to help surgeons prepare, as well as educate the people who need the operations.