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3D printing has opened new doors for creation in many different ways. There are endless possibilities with a 3D printer and doctors, scientists, engineers, and even regular people are discovering more every day. These special printers heat up the plastic and then print the plastic in a specific location. The plastic instantly cools becoming solid, and it continues like this for several hours until the piece is done printing. This allows for almost anything to be printed, as long as is can be imagined.
In recent times the pandemic has caused a shortage of PPE for medical professionals. People and companies alike that own 3D printers started their own project to make masks and other equipment to donate.
The shortage of PPE — but the drastic need for it — has caused more innovative 3D prints. In Mexico, a ventilator was printed and is now certified by the countries ministry of health. Although a whole ventilator is a large project, others have made pieces of them such as a strap to hold a mask to someone’s face.
3D printing has even made its way into the medical industry. Doctors are figuring out how they can effectively utilize 3D printing into medical practices to better existing surgeries or create new ones. In 2017 doctors used a 3D printed implant to replace a part of a dachshund’s skull. The dog had been living with a massive tumor on her head.
Doctors printed a replacement skull to replace the part they had to cut out due to the tumor. The doctors printed the skull replacement with titanium as it had to cover over half of her brain. The surgery was a success and the owners say “She is doing really well”
3D printers have also been used for other medical practices as well. It is also used to study coarctation of the aorta, one of the most common heart conditions. It affects over 1,600 newborns in the U.S. every year and can lead to many more serious conditions.
Scientists used 3D printing to better understand the conditions of the aorta. They recreated the blood flow that passes through the aorta. Using the 3D printed vein they were able to predict how elevations, exertions, and even pregnancy would affect the aorta. They did similar tests for many different circumstances to better understand the causes of coarctation of the aorta and how to prevent it. Scientists now want to use 3D printing to examine other conditions and document what causes them.
In conclusion, 3D printing has allowed for new innovation in many different areas. To be able to replace a skull with a titanium replica was not possible until recently. The advancement of 3D printing technology could advance humanity.
Written by Joseph Nelson
Edited by Sheena Robertson
New York Times: 3-D Printed Implant Gives Patches the Dachshund a New Skull
STAT: Collective intelligence and collaboration around 3D printing: rising to the challenge of Covid-19
Medical Xpress: Using models, 3-D printing to study common heart defect
Featured Image Courtesy of its-izzy’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine’s Flickr Page – Public Domain