How Rapid Prototyping Changes The World Of Medicine

Health & Medical Blog

Rapid prototyping, a process that creates three-dimensional physical models, is similar to the production of two-dimensional models by a printer. Rapid prototyping is very beneficial in many industries, including engineering, manufacturing, machine tooling and medicine. This article will discuss various medical applications of rapid prototyping.

Rapid prototyping is used in the medical world to fabricate teaching aids and customized implants for surgical teams. Modern technology allows researchers to use computer tomography scans to create prototypes of a patient's bones, tendons, and other body parts.

Having a physical model in hand enables the surgical team to practice the medical procedure before the patient is actually admitted for surgery. Because the team knows exactly how they will be performing the operation, the duration of the surgery will be significantly reduced.

Several vital applications of medical rapid prototyping include pre-surgical plan modeling; the development of teaching aids and custom surgical implants; and mechanical bone replication. These functions are discussed in greater detail below.

Pre-Surgical Plan Modeling

Computer tomography scans are often used to create a model of a fractured bone, such as the jawbone or part of the skull. The model allows the surgical team to pre-bend fixation plates and accurately select screws and other accoutrements for the surgery. In a field where anatomical abnormalities abound, the ability to create a model before the surgery begins dramatically increases the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Teaching Aids

Models printed by rapid prototyping accurately depict various parts of the body. The use of these anatomical structures for educational and display purposes saves both time and money.

Custom Surgical Implants

Because rapid prototyping allows for the printing of images displayed on x-rays or computer tomography scans, custom implants can be designed without invasive surgery. This feature results in reduced risk for the patient and less time in the operating room for the surgical team.

Mechanical Bone Replication

Rapid prototyping allows for the perfect duplication of mechanical characteristics and variations in bone specific to each patient. This unique capability enables technicians to test the strength and other tensile characteristics of bone. Additionally, rapid prototyping allows technicians to measure the reaction of bone to fractures and stresses.

Rapid prototyping Changes Lives

Rapid prototyping has been used to assist children suffering from Arthogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC), a non-progressive medical condition that causes stiff joints and underdeveloped muscles. Researchers have used rapid prototyping technology to recreate larger versions of support systems for use by smaller children.


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