As the healthcare industry progresses and changes with culture, laws, we find that technology can be incorporated to help advance the medical field and healthcare industry even further into the future.

One of the technologies being used in this way right now is 3D printing, and it’s becoming more and more commonplace as time goes on.

This may surprise you, but the first 3D printer was actually created in 1984 by a man named Charles Hull.

Hull went on to found the company 3D Systems, and ever since 3D printing technology has grown to envelop a wide variety of techniques and uses over the years. 3D printing comes off as an odd, futuristic process but may make more sense when you consider the logistics: it works the same way a normal printer might but uses layers of material rather than printing directly onto a flat surface, creating a three-dimensional result.

If you’re still confused, try watching a video to help visualize the process..

The healthcare industry in general is going through massive amounts of change in recent times. This is due to technology and new legislation, and 3D printing is its latest asset.

There is a lot of good that can come from this technology that we didn’t know is possible before, and it fits perfectly into the medical future we seem to be striving for. We’re going to highlight some of the most significant ways 3D technology is helping the healthcare industry grow:

Radiology

While the first recorded case of a radiologist using a 3D printing technology dates back to 2001, its role in the radiology department has certainly evolved over the past 17 years.

As radiologists and surgeons work hand-in-hand more often, 3D models are being created as surgical guides in operating rooms based off of radiological scans and groundwork.

CT Scans, MRIs, and X-rays offer the perfect blueprints for perfectly fit prosthetics and models we’ve found so hard to create properly in the past.

Before recently, surgeons and doctors had to use interventional radiology almost exclusively. This means they would only be working off of the X-rays and scans as their physical guides to certain procedures, and there was more guesswork in complex medical procedures.

With this convergence of radiological technology and 3D Printing, we can hope that heavy guesswork will become an artifact of the past. More accurate and easy to follow physical modeling (hopefully) means more success in heavy handed surgeries and treatment sessions.

But how does this convergence work?

Well, radiology provides insight into a body, an object, or the world layer by layer.

And so far 3D printing is the quickest way to model something based off of these physical layers of those tangible subjects radiology can reveal to us. It’s things like this that are allowing medical professionals to create accurate models and artificial body parts that reach beyond typical prosthetics.

Overall, radiology itself is moving into the field of manufacturing, and quickly. 3D printing has only pushed this along, propelling radiology into the future’s next logical step for it.

It will be exciting to see what happens to the field of radiology in the next 20 years due to the assets 3D printing brings to it as a field in general.

Nursing Education

Patient interaction, which is furthermore dependent on good communication skills, is one of the most important character traits a good nurse should have.

However, this requires education and a general knack for staying informed about new medical technology. To elaborate, nurses need to be educated about what a patient is dealing with and what medical treatment may entail for them. Models certainly help with nurse education as well as patient education by nurses.

The more common 3D printing becomes in the medical field, the more our nurses ought to know about it. They often become the middleman between a doctor and a patient. This makes it crucial for them to be somewhat knowledgeable about medical procedures, technology, and treatments. Staying informed should be a priority for all medical professionals.

In the case of 3D printing, right now it’s very plausible that 3D printing will be used to create human tissue. This is thought to come to fruition in the near future, due to the use of bio-ink, a substance used in 3D printing that contains living cells.

If a nurse came to a position where they were helping a patient prepare for a tissue transfer, they would want to know the procedures behind it to explain anything lost in translation to a patient.

Sometimes patients are more comfortable talking to nurses than doctors, which is all the more reason for nurses to stay informed about operations and procedures they help patients prepare for.

Surgical Casts and Molds

According to GoHealth Urgent Care, 3D printers are changing the way we create body casts as well. The article talks about a Spanish startup that developed a printer that, within seconds, is able to scan a broken limb and print a cast tailored to the very specific broken appendage.

Surgical molds have always been difficult to make into precisely the correct size. However, due to the precision that comes with this new technology, it’s extremely possible that casts in the future will be more effective and prepared much quicker than they currently are.

This brings to mind the other things 3D printing may be able to become a part of in the medical field.

That is, if this Spanish startup’s printer is able to create a cast in seconds, what else can it do? Can it create the perfect prosthetic that quickly?

What about the operating models we discussed above? Could this technology help us take more preventative measures toward diseases, illnesses, and injuries? Only time will tell.

It’s clear that 3D printing is changing the way medical research and operations are tasked and completed, and it’s looking like it will continue to do so.

What would you like to see it do in the future?

Let us know all about it in the comments below.

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