Cheap 3D printing?

Over the years, I’ve posted a number of peices pieces on 3D printing as an emerging manufacturing technology. Here is an item from Gizmag — Prototype miniature 3D printer could become an affordable product. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology have created a printer that costs under $2000. According to the story on of the uses might be for “physicians who wish to build custom medical devices.”
As I said in my previous posting on the subject:

I can foresee a broader use for creating customized medical devices, such as replacement joints. One of the most time consuming part of hip replacement, for example, is the fitting of the joint inside the body. It needs to be done just right. A customized joint, 3D printed on site based on the patience’s exact body specifications, might simplify the process.

Maybe the future will be here a lot quicker. On the other hand, there are still a lot of social/political issues to be confronted — specifically on how to insure that the custom medical device that someone wants to stick inside your body is safe and actually works. We may very well need a great deal of social and organizational innovation before we can full utilize this technological innovation.

One thought on “Cheap 3D printing?”

  1. I came across your blog thanks to Google reader and just wanted to let you know that the future you are looking forward to with 3D printed implants has already arrived and is already turning into a thriving industry. I work for a company involved in this industry for over 20 years and they have been working with medical applications for years (there is even an old video of our first medical project, I love the modem sounds
    You can see some of our case studies here and in addition, we have divisions devoted entirely to Orthopaedic and Cranio-Maxillofacial applications for this technology.
    It is just a shame that this side of 3D printing is not getting as much coverage as the home applications, but to be honest, I am happy with all coverage of the technology I truly love working with.


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