What’s coming in the future?

How will 3d printing effect our lives in the future? Whilst 3D printing will change so many parts of our lives, the most phenomenal way that 3D printing will affect lives in the future is within the medical field. Whilst medically 3D printing is still in its theoretical testing stage and not widely accessible to the public there are a few ways where it is beginning to be more commonly used. One way that 3D printing is starting to change how we deal with prosthetic limbs. There are thousands of people all around the world who use prosthetics. Unfortunately due to the cost, which can range up to $30,000 many people are unable to afford what they require or have to settle for uncomfortable and unsatisfactory prosthetics. 3D printing has the ability to change this with the technology allowing prosthetic hands to be created for as small a sum as $150 and limbs being similar low costs. http://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2014/08/31/3d-printed-prosthetics/ Dentists are also using this technology currently, using a 3D scanner and onsite 3D printer to create crown in their surgeries.

What used to be a costly and timely process can now take as little as an hour. Sirona created this system; the company is one of the first to use CAD and CAM in this field. They created the system called cerec, which they sell this system to dentists for around $100,000. The systems aren’t widely available yet with only 1 in 10 dentists using them but as they become the standard for dentistry they will become more common.  Surgeons also use the technology to create prototypes of patient’s organs to practice complex surgeries on, for example brain and heart surgery.  For example take a look at this story on Gabriel Mandeville a 5 month old who thanks to 3D printing is now 19 months old and growing.  http://www.inside3dp.com/medical-3d-printing-boston-child-saved-simulation-surgery/. I don’t know about you but if I needed a risky surgery I would like to know that my surgeons have had plenty of practice before operating on me, no one likes to be the test subject when it is with their body.


What is 3D Printing?

So what is 3D printing? 3D printing is producing a 3D object by printing it one thin layer at a time in a process known as additive manufacturing. It is used in conjunction with 3D Scanners and CAD (Computer Aided Design Software) to create a 3D image that can be printed. It is being used within many industries such as printing rapid prototypes for parts for cars and aircraft allowing manufacturers to test the ability of the parts before spending money on the large-scale manufacturing.

It is used for models for architects to show their plans to clients, saving time building prototypes. One of the more lighthearted ways it is used is to create intricate objects built entirely out of chocolate. (Park, 2014) Dentists have also been printing new teeth and instruments to operate with using this technology.

One of the newest areas where 3D printing is being applied is the medical industry where it is being used to print hearing aids and it is also in the testing stages of being used to print organs and even skin for patients requiring transplants (Futuretech 2013). How do you feel about in the future no longer needing organ donation for people requiring transplants, or having a new tooth printed while you finish a magazine in the waiting room?

Here’s two websites with a little more information for you if you wish to explore further.