If there is one sector that could benefit from cost savings, it’s surely in healthcare. Technology in the form of 3D printing is already having a positive impact. The dental 3D printing market is perhaps the most mature with high speed desktop printers delivering an accurate and smooth surface finish for crowns and orthodontic models which can be created on site. According to an industry Arc 2017 report, dental implants account for 34% of the revenue generated in 3D printing. But there are major opportunities as widespread as personalised prosthetics, bioprinting and tissue engineering, and pharmacology. Indeed, the uses cases are increasing on a regular basis as health practitioners embrace the technology.
With 3D printing, practitioners can provide highly customised products and treatment with much better accuracy. Casts enable doctors to create more comfortable, custom-fitted devices and implants that are less likely to be rejected by the body. 3D modelling can provide surgeons with a precise physical model of the impacted area of the patient’s body before operating, helping them to better plan for the operation, reduce the time taken for the surgery and, with the increased accuracy, improve the success rate for the patient. By providing an accurate replica of organs and body parts, doctors gain an insight that isn’t easily replicated by any form of medical diagnostics.
In pharmacology, 3D printing has provided a new level of precision for the design and manufacture of pills that can house several drugs, all with different release times. These can be a welcome solution for patients that need to take several pills for a variety of ailments.
Of course, there are still barriers to be overcome. It takes time for the regulatory authorities to approve 3D printed products and the relatively high cost of 3D printers is an issue. However, there are clear examples of where the use of 3D printing has significantly reduced costs in other areas.
Growth prospects for 3D printing are very strong. According to the Guardian, the technology is expected to be worth no less than $1.3bn by 2021. Gartner estimates that 35% of surgeries for prosthetics and implants will be performed with 3D printing by 2019.
3D printing certainly has the potential for greater efficiency and cost savings for the health sector. For that reason alone, it’s a technology that should be embraced and on the radar of resellers that sell into this sector.
Sources & Acknowledgements: Forbes, Raconteur, TechCrunch, Gartner, The Guardian, Accenture