Simplifying Medical Additive Manufacturing: Making the Surgeon the Designer

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212017315002157

Abstract

Additive Manufacturing, a technology which has been in existence since three decades, is now successfully being transitioned from a research setting to finding technologically and financially viable end-user applications. A key sector in which Additive Manufacturing is being used is the medical devices and healthcare sector. Drivers in this sector include the ability to create customized, patient specific devices and implants with quick turnaround time in a cost-effective manner. Doctors and surgeons are important change agents and innovators in the creation of new healthcare devices as well as surgical methods. Often times, they may find it necessary at first to build devices and plan surgeries which are not even being thought of or acted upon by the major healthcare companies. In this sense, they perform the roles of designers, creating new ideas and improving on them until they can be implemented and adopted by others. However, the scope for performing this creative activity is often limited in their workplaces, with resource, time and financial impediments often being present. Additive Manufacturing can be helpful to speed up the iterative process of designing such medical devices or planning surgeries as well as help convince people outside of the surgery room of the feasibility and business case for such innovations. This paper proposes to introduce a framework of design, processes and tools which will enable non-engineers (specifically surgeons) to create custom-built products. It is hoped that this paper will motivate more surgeons and non-engineers to get involved in the process of designing for additive manufacturing.

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