Medical Applications of Additive Manufacturing

Rapid advances in imaging and additive manufacturing (AM) technologies are significantly changing clinical practice. Additive manufacturing, with its flexibility, provides a highly customizable and patient-specific treatment which could reduce the treatme

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Medical Applications of Additive Manufacturing Zhaohui Geng and Bopaya Bidanda

6.1  Introduction Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing or rapid prototyping, is an advanced and transformative manufacturing technology that can directly create 3-D objects from digital models. The name Additive Manufacturing comes from the processes that create a solid object through adding successive thin layers of material. Due to this additive nature, AM enables fabrication of highly customizable and geometrically complex products using a variety of materials with a relatively low cost and high versatility. After it was first introduced by Charles Hull in 1980s [9], AM processes quickly gained popularity in the defense, automobile and aviation sectors to create part prototypes for design improvement and validation. With the recent improvement of accuracy and expansion of printable materials, AM could also make finished products for much wider industrial applications. One of the most exciting and life changing applications of AM is in the field of medicine. The popularity of medical products, such as surgical guide, robots, prosthetics, etc., have been long suffering from their steep price tag and inaccessibility. The ability of directly fabricate a physical model from a digital model allows economic, small batch manufacturing of these medical products and also makes it easier for physicians or medical researchers, since they do not need to worry about the complexity of manufacturing process design and planning. This, in turns shortens throughput times for fabrication leading to better patient outcomes. There are many ways to classify medical applications of AM, either by the type of AM process (stereolithography (SLA), selective laser sintering (SLS), inkjet printing, fused deposition modeling (FDM), extrusion, etc.) or based on body parts, etc. In this chapter, we adopt a classification based on the application type, since it

Z. Geng (*) · B. Bidanda Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA e-mail: [email protected]; [email protected] © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 P. J. Bártolo, B. Bidanda (eds.), Bio-Materials and Prototyping Applications in Medicine,



Z. Geng and B. Bidanda

will not only provide an overview of the current-state-of-the-art medical ­applications of AM, but will also be helpful to the reader to identify current gaps existing in the medical applications. According to Tuomi [21], the various application types include: • Medical models for pre- and post-operative planning, education, and training. Through medical imaging and reverse engineering (RE), anatomical objects can be recreated with tactile quality for better and more accurate surgical planning and simulation. • Medical aids, orthoses, splints, and prostheses. AM could provide personalized device to enhance healing and help damage repair as accurate as possible. • Tools, instruments, and parts for medical devices. AM can help to create patien