- Nepalese engineer Ram Chandra Thapa has applied his 3-D printing expertise to assist medical clinics in his country, ABC reported last week.
- In remote, hard to reach mountain regions, Mr. Thapa's 3-D printing enabled the creation of octoscopes, plastic fetoscopes, tweezers, wrist braces and umbilical clamps. Kidney trays, sharps boxes, forceps and stethoscopes are currently in design.
- The purchase and shipment of small orders or single specialty items from foreign countries was expensive and time consuming for Nepalese clinics. With the scalability of 3-D printing, especially if individual clinics can acquire the technology, equipment can be produced on demand.
The increase in 3-D printing application to assist clinics in remote regions at low cost is one piece of the global healthcare puzzle, where rising costs must be mitigated by cost-saving innovation. The innovation continues in improving traditional methods of medical repair through advance modeling, allowing for precise pre-surgery practice, which both saves lives and resources in the process.
Heart surgeons are relying on 3-D medical models that allow for the formation of custom implants to patch ventricular defects. Newer printer models also create photo-curable resins of various textures, transparency and flexibility which mimic bones, tendons, and organs to such a degree that surgeons can undertake complex repairs using CT scan data converted into a printable digital file capable of manipulation. Orthopedic operations involving cutting or drilling into skeletal structures, such as jaw surgeries, knee replacements and heel repair are improved by custom tools and casts that allow for more effective healing without the typical concerns of water damage or excessive weight and the resulting discomfort.
Prosthetics are an area of particular success for 3-D printers, particularly as prosthetics need to 'grow' with their user over time. This is especially helpful to children of a young age who require prosthetic limbs. The quick turnaround allows doctors to apply subtle design modifications quickly in order to ensure that the final product, which may require robotic components, is specific to the patient and also adaptable over time.