3D Printing in the Operating Room: How Metal Additive Manufacturing is Transforming Surgery

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3D printing is being utilized in a variety of industries due to its high-quality customization capabilities and on-demand manufacturing, among other key benefits. Out in front among the sectors taking full advantage of additive manufacturing technology is the healthcare industry.

Within healthcare, the benefits and innovations of 3D metal printing are perhaps nowhere more evident than the operating room (OR) in surgical instrumentation and medical devices. In this article, we’ll examine some of the key contributions and advantages of metal 3D printing in the OR, as well as how the technology is transforming surgical procedures and driving innovation.

Metal AM Allows for Critical Customization

The ability to customize surgical tools to a patient’s unique anatomy and needs is widely considered the greatest benefit of additive manufacturing (AM) in the OR setting. As Engineering.com’s Michael Molitch-Hou states, 3D-printing allows health care providers to create “patient-specific tools that can be implemented during surgery.”

Sam Onukuri, head of Johnson & Johnson’s 3D Printing Center of Excellence, further highlights the benefits of 3D printing’s customization by pointing out that typically physicians enter the operating room with various instrument sizes, which can be inefficient in procedures. In contrast, 3D printing allows for the creation of specific tools custom made for the procedure.

Streamline Surgery with Metal 3D Printing

AM allows for a faster and more streamlined process in manufacturing surgical tools. As Onukuri explains, in traditional manufacturing, a machine is used to create each individual component of an instrument. These pieces are then combined with screws or some form of welding. Whereas with metal additive manufacturing, an entire, fully functional instrument can be printed at one time with a metal 3D printer; condensing the production timeline and creating a much faster and less expensive process.

Metal Additive Manufacturing Achieves the (Formerly) Impossible

You do not have to search far to find examples of how metal AM is helping healthcare providers achieve unprecedented surgical feats – saving lives and restoring health and mobility to patients who would have previously experienced adverse health outcomes. As an article in 3DPrint.com notes, 3D printing is re-writing the book on surgery and “has begun to remove the term ‘inoperable’ from many surgeons’ vocabulary.”

Metal 3D printing in the surgical realm has allowed for the creation of titanium heel implants, as in the case of an Australian man faced with the grim news that his lower leg would be amputated following a diagnosis of cancer in his heel bone. Thanks to metal additive manufacturing, the man’s care team could create a titanium implant customized for his heel that ultimately saved his leg.

Similarly, care providers have found success 3D printing hip implants and other joints made of high-quality metal.

3DEO - Metal 3D Printing Medical Devices

At 3DEO, we work with some of the world’s leading surgical instrument and medical device manufacturers. Our technology is particularly well suited for medical devices and dental applications.

As a metal 3D printing service and parts supplier, we have built our reputation on manufacturing the highest-quality products that meet industry benchmark MPIF Standard 35 with the best surface finish in the industry. In addition, our capacity means no minimum orders and very short turnaround times. Contact us today to learn more about the 3DEO difference.