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Industry Insights


5 Innovative and Cutting-Edge 3D-Printed Medical Devices


Oct 14 2019

3D-printed medical devices, both simple and complex, are making great strides.

3D printing in the medical device industry is moving full-steam ahead. Researchers and engineers are finding creative ways to design and print all kinds of new devices that are improving healthcare practices for professionals and patients.

There are many reasons why 3D printing has a big future in the medical device industry, including faster production, dramatically decreased costs, highly customized care, and new device capabilities altogether. The world of medical device design and 3D printing is a fascinating one, so we thought we’d take a look at a few of the most innovative and cutting-edge devices emerging in the market today.

3D-Printed Bandages

3D-Printed Bandages

Source: Temple University

Regular adhesive bandages work well and are simple enough to produce, but 3D printing could take them to a new level of customization and recovery. Researchers at Temple University have discovered a way to 3D print bandages directly onto the skin. This helps wounds stay protected and heal more quickly, while also lending the patient more freedom when wearing it. 3D-printed bandages like these have the potential to help difficult wounds, like burns, heal properly.

3D-Printed Prosthetics

3D-Printed Prosthetics

Source: Open Bionics

3D-printed prosthetics have a number of advantages, including offering a more affordable alternative for those who might not be able to afford traditional prosthetics. Typically, myoelectric prosthetic arms can cost around $10K, but 3D-printed ones can cost 90% less. Organizations like e-NABLE are even working to provide 3D-printed prosthetics for free. 3D-printed prosthetic arms and hands are already gaining in popularity, and this is soon to become more common for prosthetic legs and other body parts as well.

Learn from a Certified SOLIDWORKS Expert how to create your own 3D model of a prosthetic arm in our free SOLIDWORKS tutorial!

3D-Printed Splints, Casts, and Braces

3D-Printed Splints, Casts, and Braces

Source: The Cortex Cast, Evill Design

Traditional plaster casts are often frustrating: they are heavy, uncomfortable on the skin and unable to get wet. While 3D-printed splints and casts aren’t yet commercially available, there are many promising projects that look to solve these common problems with a more lightweight, waterproof, and open design, like the Cortex Cast pictured above. This is another area in which 3D printing medical devices can be incredibly affordable — one finger splint design only requires 2¢ of plastic to print!

3D-Printed Implants

3D-Printed Implants

When it comes to custom care, the most progress for 3D-printed medical devices has arguably been made for implants. Implants are a higher risk medical device, but 3D printing would allow for a greater level of personalization by ensuring the device fits each patient’s specific anatomy. 3D-printed implants are already being used for hip, spine, and jaw procedures. The results so far are promising: for example, over 94% of 3D printed titanium dental implants have been successful.

3D-Printed Organ and Tumor Models

3D-Printed Organ and Tumor Models

Source: University of Minnesota

The biggest, and perhaps most anticipated challenge in medical device 3D printing is organ printing. While researchers still have a long way to go to print viable organs, immense progress is being made in 3D printing organ and tumor models. 3D-printed heart models can now mimic real human organ tissue and can even be equipped with sensors that provide real-time feedback to surgeons in training. Researchers have also been able to 3D print realistic models of cancerous tumors, which have the potential to be a breakthrough for cancer drug development and understanding how cancer develops and spreads.

Free E-Guide: The Solution to Medical Device Design Challenges

Find out how to minimize design risk, work under strict regulations, and innovate with engineering training for the medical device industry.

Claire Juozitis
Claire Juozitis

About the Author

Claire Juozitis

SolidProfessor commercial content marketer and unironic classic rock record collector