3D Printing: Will Personalized Medical Devices Be The Next Big Thing?
Medical device manufacturers have a growing interest in 3D printing, a technology that could upend the manufacturing and distribution of certain medical devices and expand the scope of personalized medicine – especially in orthopedics, where it's used for some models, implants, and surgical cutting guides. Despite uncertainties related to regulation, reimbursement, and scaling up, global 3D printing revenues for medical and dental applications reached an estimated $537.1 million in 2014.
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Whether used for training surgeons outside of the operating room or as a valuable reference tool during surgery, the recent AAOS annual conference shows that orthopedic surgeons rank among several pioneering clinician groups who are embracing surgical solutions that extend into the worlds of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. With the global shift toward value-based health care, Proponents say these new technologies may offer surgeons new ways to improve operating times and efficiency, better patient outcomes and cut overall costs.
K2M Group’s CASCADIA incorporates 3D printing for its Lamellar Titanium Technology to allow for bony integration throughout the implant. Surgeons now have a new alternative to traditional PEEK and titanium cages for the 90,000 spinal lateral fusion procedures performed globally each year, a market estimated at $500 million.
With FDA approval of facial and cranial implants, Oxford Performance Materials, a materials and additive manufacturing (3D printing) company, is working to become a full service orthopedic and spinal company in the coming years.