3 Real 3-D Printing Trends to Watch: Cutting Costs, Increasing Access

Posted in Printing Services by Chris Wiltz on May 12, 2014

 3 Real 3-D Printing Trends to Watch: Cutting Costs, Increasing Access

Cutting Costs, Increasing Access

At the end of the day it's all about dollars and cents. And even the most innovative technologies won't catch on if the pricetag is too high (robots anyone?). Fortunately 3-D printing hasn't run into this problem. Printers and materials are only getting cheaper and companies and researchers are turning to it to create lower cost alternatives to prosthetics
A collaborative group working via the Internet was able to give a man a $50 3-D printed hand that compared to its $42,000 counterpart in terms of functionality.
Not Impossible Labs, a company based in Venice, CA, is using 3-D printing to fabricate prostheses for Sudanese children who have lost their limbs in war conflicts.
 Not Impossible Labs is giving 3-D printed prosthetics to conflict victims in Sudan.
British company Fripp Design and Research is working to 3-D print a number of facial prosthetics including eyes, noses, and ears. Using patient facial scans, Fripp can replicate patients' noses and ears using less-invasive means than traditional facial molds. They can also replace these parts at a fraction of the cost. In collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University, Fripp has developed a process for 3-D printing prosthetic eyes that match a patient's color and pigment without being hand painted. Fripp says its process can print about 150 eyes an hour at a cost of about $150 each. Traditional methods can take up to eight hours to create a single eye and cost upwards of $6000.
Fripp Design is able to print prosthetics, including eyes, at a fraction of traditional costs. [ Image via Fripp Design and Research]
Evill Design has developed the Cortex Exoskeletal Cast, an alternative to the traditional plaster cast. In addition to be much cooler looking, the Cortex offers more long-term patient benefits by being lighter weight, waterproof, ventilated, and recyclable among other things.
Evill Designs's Cortex Exoskeleton offers aesthetic and functional improvements over a plaster cast.
Looking even farther into the future, Lee Cronin a chemist at the University of Glasgow in Scotland is envisioning a world where we can print our own medicine. Cutting out the middle man could represent huge cost savings to the healthcare community. Imagine no more trips to the pharmacy and being able to download a prescription and print both the drug and delivery device from the comfort of home. Cronin's research has shown it is possible to 3-D print a matrix wherein chemical reactions can take place.
 Lee Cronin envisions a world where we can 3-D print drugs and their delivery devices.


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