The Role of 3D Printing in Saving Life

rtryWhen the concept of 3D first came into being, it took little time to capture the attention of people. Most people regard it as a manufacturing strategy. People are not wrong either. This is a manufacturing technology but the very idea of creating physical objects from a computer file is extremely interesting.

3D printing has limitless potential. With the aid of this technology, it is easy to customise medicines according to the need of the patient while the manufacturers need not bother themselves in case a given machine does not have the right parts to function.

3D printing is defined as an additive manufacturing process. Here, an individual takes the computer file of an object and constructs and converts that into a three-dimensional object.

3D printing is hard to understand for most, especially when biomedical engineering gets applied to 3D printing. 3D printing chiefly involves taking a blueprint or a digital model created using software and then printed in different layers.

3D printing has a significant role to play in saving life. Let's see how.

3D Printed Human Heart

3D printing technology has the capacity to construct actual working bridges, make prosthetics for the amputees and decorative accessories for home. These were just inorganic materials, but today, 3D printing is in use for creation of organic materials as well.

Without doubt, it would be great if the organs could be printed and then used to save lives. A research has pointed out that it is possible to 3D print human heart and use them to reduce complications in surgeries.

Mia Gonzalez is one of the patients whose open heart surgery was facilitated by the 3D printing technology. Mia Gonzalez, a three and a half-year-old was unable to lead a normal life. She suffered frequent bouts of cold and pneumonia and had trouble breathing.

After a 10 day long stay at the hospital, the doctors realised that she require an open heart surgery. Her doctor made a 3D printed model of her heart. This helped to have a clearer plan for the surgery and reduced the recovery time as well. Today, Mia is hale and hearty and is attending the dance recitals too. Though even today she suffers from minor bouts of cold, she does not land up in hospitals for cure.

3D Printed Liver

In the year 2012, Dr Nizar Zein the Chief of Hepatology in Cleveland Clinic discovered the multiple advantages and applications of the 3D printing technology and started considering whether it can be used in medicine, chiefly in the liver surgeries. The liver surgeries are quite complex and often lead to complications. Dr Nizar Zein thought of making the process easier by 3D printing a model of liver that would make seeing the bile ducts and the blood vessels easier. The first attempt was made in the year 2012. During that time, it took around 6 weeks to print the model. Today, Cleveland Clinic uses the 3D models in the surgeries and it takes much less time to print the 3D models. Moreover, the results have also improved substantially. Earlier, the models were hazy and yellowish. Today, they are clear and it is also possible to print different components individually, easing the process substantially.

With the aid of 3D models of liver, the doctors at the clinic are hopeful of the patients with liver tumour.

Predict Natural Disaster

A large number of lives are lost in natural disasters every year. The developing countries are most vulnerable to these disasters as they do not have the requisite tools to predict them in advance. To predict events like storms and big floods, a series of equipment and sensors is necessary. These tools are quite costly. Researchers have pointed out that it is possible to print the 3D forecasting tools in significantly affordable prices. Moreover, maintenance charges would be lowered and it would be easier to make the replacements too.

According to the researchers, this equipment will come to use not just in adverse weather condition but can be used to get local weather reports as well.

Though it is a comparatively new technology, 3D printing offers limitless opportunities. It has already proved its use in several applications and experiments are being conducted to improve the prospects further. Hope that 3D printing technology continues to evolve, making our world a better place to be in, in the near future.


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