The Future of 3D Printing in Orthopedic
The models can also actually be subjected to orthopedic procedures like drilling or placing a plate, which allows the surgeon to actually practice the procedure multiple times, perhaps comparing different approaches or methods, prior to working on the actual patient. This improves the chance of success of the operation, reduces the amount of time required for the operation, and also reduces the need to perform re-operations due to suboptimal results from the first operation.
Bioceramic composites are being used to print out custom implants that resemble actual human bone amazingly well; these implants could be used to replace the use of cadaver bone for filling in bony defects in the limbs or other parts of the body. Some orthopedic surgeons are anticipating that soon they will be able to custom make joint implants for each individual patient that work better than the ones currently available.
3D printers have even been able to print out living tissues. For example, one company has been experimenting with printing out living skin grafts for use in repairing large skin defects caused by burns.