Dissertation Research!

Hello all!

I was wondering if you might be able to help me! I am currently writing up my dissertation with the lead question ,"How has 3D printing revolutionsied the medical industry?", and was wondering if anyone would be able to provide some links to articles/research or any first hand knowledge of ways in which the medical industry has adopted the use of 3D printing.

I thank you all in advance!


Hi Dan! With such a general question, it seems as though you are in the early stages of your research. How exciting! I’m not sure if the community here is your target audience, but I hope you get some feedback.

For what it’s worth, I suggest you start here. If you discover a promising area within the medical field (e.g., are you interested in the vendor/industry part, or the medical applications part?), you might progress to searching the Medline database, PubMed, or Google Scholar. Another piece of advice that I can’t help but give: go visit the librarians at your university. They will be A+ at connecting you with resources for your research.

If you are further along than this, then I apologize in advance for providing such entry-level advice. It can be hard to know how to answer a question when it is as broad as yours. Good luck!


Medical Industry can be broken up into multiple segments when considering 3D printing. There is surgical planning/practice, medical device development, medical device manufacturing, custom device manufacturing, and bioprinting. I am sure there are more but that is just a quick list. Med device stuff is still pretty early and the development part is nothing special compared to other industries. Custom devices are coming out but i wouldn’t say they have revolutionized anything just yet. Bioprinting is still pretty far for anything commercial but again will be big i assume.

The most impactful and interesting so far has probably been surgical planning/practice. There were several presentations at the conference called Rapid 3D which I suggest going to if you are interested in this subject (http://www.rapid3devent.com). Also, see here (https://www.3dsystems.com/industries/healthcare) for a few case studies also. 3D systems and Stratasys are two big printer manufacturers that have tried to push the healthcare angle. I think that should give you a good start.


The biggest area related to medical is actually the Dental space. There is the creation of surgical guides in the office, and also the creation of molds to thermoform over for the creation of things like an Invisalign retainer.

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Also; printing models/dies of intraoral scans, printing castable resins for CAD designed crown/bridge casting, SLM printing of copings/bridge frameworks and so forth.

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I just visited a lab on an air force base and they’ve been 3D printing since the 80’s. Printing femurs for practicing knee replacements…etc. It’s been around longer than you think…

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Sorry I have no links or solid info to provide, only anecdotal hearsay!

My brother graduated from med school in 2014. He says they used 3D printers extensively for practicing surgeries, determining issues, blockages, etc. He is currently a trauma surgeon, so not really any use for him now as his work is immediate, but says some surgeons will print a replica of a patient’s organ before they go in for the real surgery. How they capture the organ is beyond me…MRI, Cat-scan maybe?

Good luck on your dissertation!

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