Applications of 3D printing technology in the medical field
1.Organ models to aid in preoperative planning and surgical treatment analysis
High-fidelity physical organ models play an important role in clinical care and medical education. Traditional manufacturing processes, such as casting or forging, waste a lot of time in preparing expensive molds and always ignore individual patient differences. 3D printing has the advantage that custom medical models can be made quickly and at a lower cost because no tools are involved. 3D printed organ models mainly help doctors in surgical analysis and preoperative training. Personalized medical models with complex shapes created using 3D printing technology can provide a medium for communication between doctors and engineers and can assist in surgical planning and diagnosis. Such applications do not require biocompatibility of materials and include medical models and in vitro devices for preoperative planning, prosthesis design, testing criteria, etc., as the printed parts do not enter the body.
2. Permanent non-biologically active implants
Permanent medical implants commonly used in dentistry and orthopedics require non-biodegradable biomaterials that provide good biocompatibility after surgical manipulation. Compared to the manufacture of implants through traditional machining techniques, 3D printing allows for personalized, real-time fabrication of any complex implant with high dimensional accuracy and short production cycles. During traditional bone processing, traditional metal implants are prone to stress shielding and can eventually compromise bone integrity as they present a greater stiffness than bone.
3. Fabrication of locally bioactive and biodegradable scaffolds
There are two possible routes to manufacture tissues and organs, depending on whether cells are directly manipulated during the formation process. The first route is tissue engineering, also known as indirect cell assembly, which involves first forming a three-dimensional scaffold and then seeding the cells Alone or in combination with live cells, biocompatible materials, growth factors and physical factors can be used to create a microstructured scaffold that mimics tissue. The second route, called direct cell assembly, formulates both cells and materials into a composite structure. The mixture of cells and gel is encapsulated into a three-dimensional scaffold composed of another gel with good mechanical strength or printed directly to control the spatial distribution of cells and even to enable in situ repair. Biodegradable scaffolds play an important role as a bionic structure for extracellular matrix. Compared with traditional scaffold fabrication methods, 3D printing can produce any complex structure with both microscopic pores and macroscopic shapes, which can effectively control the microstructure and physicochemical properties of scaffolds.
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