3D Printing in Medicine

3D Printing in Medicine examines the emerging market of 3D-printed biomaterials and its clinical applications. With a particular focus on both commercial and premarket tools, the book looks at their applications within medicine and the future outlook for the field.

The book begins with a discussion of the fundamentals of 3D printing, including topics such as materials, and hardware. Chapters go on to cover applications within medicine such as computational analysis of 3D printed constructs, personalized 3D printing and 3D cell and organ printing. The concluding chapters in the book review the applications of 3D printing in diagnostics, drug development, 3D-printed disease models and 3D printers for surgical practice.

With a strong focus on the translation of 3D printing technology to a clinical setting, this book is a valuable resource for scientists and engineers working in biomaterial, biomedical, and nanotechnology based industries and academia.

  • Provides a comprehensive and authoritative overview of all the medical applications of 3D printing biomaterials and technologies
  • Focuses on the emerging market of 3D printed biomaterials in clinical applications
  • Reviews both commercial and under development materials, tools, their applications, and future evolution

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  • 3D Printing in Medicine

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Professor discusses future of 3D printed medicine

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (KBTX) — A Sam Houston State University professor says the possibilities when it comes to 3D printing are growing each day. The technology’s future now includes food and even medications.

Dr. Pamela Zelbst, a professor and director of Sam Houston State’s Center for Innovation and Technology in Texas, says the wonders of 3D printing are at an all-time high.

“What is really cool about the technology is that if you have something that you can get in a powder form or liquid form, then you can print in it,” said Zelbst.

Now, that also includes food and medication.

“They are designing it specifically for the patient,” said Zelbst, “So rather than having something that is pretty generic for patients to take, you can actually have the medication printed to fit your needs.”

Zelbst says the technology is still in its infancy, but one of the concerns is how it will be regulated in the future.

“It’s like any other technology in that our laws really lag behind,” said Zelbst, “So it’s going to be a while before they catch up, and as a result of that, were going to see some things that we don’t really want to see.”

Despite fears of illegal uses, Dr. Zelbst says the impact of 3D printing has the potential to positively reach just about all industries. Right now, the cost of the technology would be a big factor.

“We all know when something is new, it costs a lot more than it does later on,” said Zelbst. “As it becomes more mainstream, I would anticipate the cost would go down.”

There are some negatives. Zelbst points out that 3D printing makes it easy to reproduce someone else’s products, and that hinges on violating intellectual property laws. At Sam Houston State, she says students are taught to use a code of ethics.

MIT's shape-shifting 3D-printed objects could improve medicine and solar-power

MIT-Shape-Memory-1_0MIT and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) teamed up to create a new kind of structure that can “remember” its original shape, and return to that state even after being deformed or otherwise bent out of shape. This could be hugely beneficial in applications like creating drugs that can lie dormant until it detects a change in body temperature indicative of a fever, for instance, or in building an actuator to change the angle of a solar cell to better capture the sun’s light over time.

The combined research team from MIT and SUTD is a 3D printing process that actually adds the fourth dimension to the process, since the structures can change over time. They use shape-memory polymers as their base material, which can maintain both a high-temperature and low-temperature state. The printing process allows said high-temperature state to be printed onto a liquid resin using light from a projector, which MIT says is basically what happens when dentists 3D print replicas of teeth or cavity fills.

The major difference between the process used by MIT/SUTD and that used by the dentistry industry is one of resolution – the lenses it’s using to focus the light used in the printing process come from the semiconductor industry, and operate a much smaller scale, letting the researches print structures on the scale of a single human hair.

Getting things that small is important because you get significant speed advantages in how quickly material can recover its shape the smaller you go. Being able to print reliably at that scale will make for faster-acting drugs hat release their active ingredients at the very first sign of infection, or example.

Challenges still exist in terms of building materials that can react to lower temperatures than those currently possible. The current range is just outside that of the human body, and hitting that range would be tremendously helpful in terms of creating custom drug delivery mechanisms.


One of the examples created to demonstrate the potential of the process is the “gripper” in the GIF above, which closes its claw around whatever object placed inside when the surrounding air temp raises to 40 degrees celsius or above.