The medical device industry continues to grow around the world and especially in the United States. As the industry has grown, so has the use of 3D printing (also called additive manufacturing) for medical device prototypes and production parts. Medical 3D printing is no longer the stuff of science fiction. Additive manufacturing (AM) is now used for everything from surgical implants to prosthetics and even organs and bones.
According to Zion Market Research, the global 3D printing medical devices market was valued at approximately $0.89 billion USD in 2017 and is expected to generate revenue of around $2.34 billion USD by the end of 2024, growing at a compound annual growth rate of around 18% between 2018 and 2024.
Why is additive manufacturing ideally suited for the medical market? Three major factors, speed, customization, and cost-effectiveness, are responsible.
Additive manufacturing allows engineers to innovate more quickly. Engineers are able to transform an idea into a physical prototype in as little as 1-2 days. A speedier product development timeframe enables companies to allocate more time for receiving feedback from surgeons and patients. In turn, more and better feedback results in designs that perform better in the market.
3D printing enables unprecedented levels of customization. Everyone’s body is different and 3D printing allows engineers to create products that are tailored to those differences. This increases patient comfort, surgical accuracy, and improves outcomes. Customization also allows engineers bring their creativity to life across a wide range of applications. With 3D printing now available in thousands of flexible, colorful, and strong materials, engineers can bring their most creative visions to life.
Most importantly, AM enables customized medical applications at costs that are often lower than those of traditional manufacturing.
Metal and plastic 3D printing technologies are both suited for medical applications. The most common technologies include fused deposition modeling (FDM), direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), Carbon direct light synthesis (DLS), and selective laser sintering (SLS).
FDM is a great process for early device prototypes and surgical models. Sterilizable FDM materials include PPSF, Ultem, and ABS M30i. Metal 3D printing through DMLS can be done with 17-4PH stainless steel, which is a sterilizable material. A new process, Carbon, uses custom resins for a wide range of end-use medical device applications. Finally, SLS can produce strong, flexible parts and is the best process to use when creating a bone replica.
AM is transforming nearly all aspects of the medical industry. 3D printing is making training easier, improving patient experience and accessibility, and easing the process of implant procurement and insertion.
Since high-end SLS, DMLS, and Carbon 3D printers can cost $500,000 or more, many medical companies are outsourcing production to manufacturing-as-a-service companies like Xometry. 86% of Fortune 500 medical companies rely on Xometry as a part of their innovation process. We help the world’s largest and fastest-growing companies move from idea to prototype to production faster, which increases their odds of in-market success.
Top medical companies trust Xometry for its: