Complex Made Simple

Sneak peek: 3D printing offers new healthcare opportunities

Fast, cost-efficient, sustainable, personalized - the future of 3D printing involves going beyond "printing" teeth, bones, organs, and medical devices!

Value of 3D-printed medical products in Dubai to reach AED 1.7 billion by 2025 "We have already seen the benefits of this technology in dentistry, surgeries and 3D printed prosthetics" Imagine 3D printing stem cells that could grow inside a body and replace a liver or kidney, without having to wait for a donor!

3D printing has come a long way since the first little cup was "printed" by Chuck Hall. This emerging technology is now cutting costs, restructuring resource allocation, solving supply chain issues, and thus, revolutionizing a number of industries including healthcare – which is an early adopter of this technology. For instance, the 3D printing-based medical devices market is expected to grow 18 percent per year to $3.5 billion by 2025, a Transparency Market Research report indicates. Within the medical products segment, the focus is on 3D printing of teeth, bones, artificial organs, as well as medical and surgical devices.

The Dubai 3D Printing Strategy was launched in 2016 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, with the aim of using technology to serve humanity and establishing Dubai as a leading 3D printing hub by 2030. Keeping this vision in mind, the Dubai Science Park (DSP) conducted an Advance Health networking event that demonstrated how 3D printing works.

“Technology in the healthcare space has the potential to transform lives for the better. The role of 3D printing is promising due to its precision, speed and the potential savings it can bring to healthcare systems. We have already seen the benefits of this technology across a number of areas in Dubai including dentistry, surgeries and 3D printed prosthetics. Our aim is to continue to work in collaboration with the private sector to see how we can best implement this technology within Dubai’s healthcare landscape,” said Dr Mohammed Al Redha, Director of Project Management Office, Informatics and Smart Health at the Dubai Health Authority.

Revenue from 3D printing in health care worldwide from 2015 to 2018

A promising future!

One of the main problems surrounding mass-manufactured traditional prosthetics is the lack of a custom fit, which can not only be uncomfortable, but also takes away symmetry and range of motion. 3D printing solves all of these problems, while also providing a more cost-effective alternative. Forward-looking data shows that this eco-friendly option can also reach patients faster as they can be swiftly manufactured and replaced.

“Already employed successfully in complex surgeries, 3D printing is likely to revolutionize the domain due to its personalization capabilities as well as the fact that it minimizes risk and maximizes positive outcomes. As this technology gains uptake throughout the UAE, it is poised to become the backbone of multiple medical procedures,” said Marwan Abdulaziz Janahi, Managing Director of DSP and Chairing Member of the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Equipment Taskforce of the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030.

Distribution of the uses of 3D printing in health care worldwide in 2016, by share of revenue

The future of 3D printing looks fascinating. In addition to using 3D printed artificial bones and organs, this technology has also brought about the possibility of "building" or "printing" tissues, muscles and small organs using stem cells, which could grow within a patient's body and replace a liver, heart or kidney, without necessarily having to wait for an ideal donor.

Furthermore, 3D printing could provide much more customized, aesthetic solutions to each specific burn victim. It also brings about the possibility of creating a single pill that could include the perfect dosage of a combination of pills that is customized and personalized for each patient. The possibilities are immense: from 3D bio-printed structures, to implants, reconstructive surgical guides, and more!

“The medical field is all about people and quality of life. Healthcare products need to support the healing process in a meaningful way to help patients gain mobility. Our goal is to develop sustainable solutions in collaboration with our customers in order to improve people’s lives," Dr Franziska Fuchs, Business Development Manager for Humaneering and Healthcare at EOS, a global technology leader in industrial 3D printing concluded.