3D printing is a dynamic industry, with new technologies and techniques emerging all the time. Here’s what Menno Ellis, senior vice president, Strategy & Vertical Markets, 3D Systems says about recent developments in materials for 3D printing.
By far, the most significant materials development in additive manufacturing is biocompatibility and associated regulatory approvals for placing 3D printed parts on and in the human body. Among the most important materials for producing implants are cobalt chromium and titanium. Enabling manufacturers to 3D print these materials allows them to make both “standard” parts for mass consumption that are uniquely suited for 3D printing due to their complex geometries, as well developing custom parts for each individual patient based on their specific needs. Significant advances have also been made with plastic materials to develop custom parts for each patient. The majority of hearing aids are produced with 3D printing. Additionally, through additive manufacturing companies can produce short-term use items such as surgical guides for facilitating medical and dental procedures, as well as long-term appliances like dental crowns and dentures. As revolutionary as this sounds, all these items are available today. Looking towards the future I believe the next frontier in biocompatible printing will be tissue and organ printing.