Additive manufacturing is a burgeoning technology in hospital environments. In order for the technology to take off fully, pioneering hospitals and surgeons are working to demonstrate the positive impacts 3D printed implants can have on the NHS, surgeons and patients. Amy Davey, Reconstructive Scientist at North Bristol NHS Trust in the UK, explains recent changes she has seen in implant technology and discusses her experiences of the impact that additively manufactured implants have had on patients and surgeons in hospitals.
In the last few years, there has been a significant shift towards patient specific implants (PSIs), which previously would have only been used for complex cases. They are slowly being used in everyday practise. PSIs can be produced by additive manufacturing (AM), also known as metal 3D printing, in several different materials for medical applications. AM is still a relatively new technology in the medical sector.
AM offers several benefits over traditionally made implants, including fewer geometric limitations on implant design. Implants created using AM technology are built in layers from powdered metal resulting in fewer restrictions on what can be manufactured. Even complex cases can be straightforward to manufacture with this method.