The medical applications of 3D scanning: What is possible?
We talk a lot about 3D printing in the medical industry, from 3D printed knee replacements to hearts. But there is much more to discover within 3D technologies. For instance, 3D scanning. This technique enables doctors around the world to literally look inside the patient in just a matter of seconds! What are other benefits of 3D scanning for medical applications? Let’s find out!
How is 3D scanning beneficial for the medical industry?
3D scanning gives doctors an exact image of their patient and allows them to really study different solutions without testing them on the patient directly. With this technology, they are able to visualize inside a patient’s body. No other technology has ever given doctors such a close look inside their patients. 3D scanners can also be portable and are always very fast, which sometimes is a matter of life and death for the injured. Such an ambitious project started father and son, after years of development, their impressive work resulted in Mars– the 3D scanner which sees through people.
A very important quantity of 3D scanning is that it is absolutely harmless. X-rays and MRIs use radiation to produce pictures of the body which always carries a risk. There is no such risk with a 3D scanner to capture the position of the object in reality and register the data in virtual reality either via photos, light or a laser beam.
Let’s start with how quick 3D scanning is. When it comes to saving someone’s life every minute counts. Thanks to 3D scanning all the important data about the patient’s condition can be gathered in a matter of seconds and the doctors will have a better view on what should be their next step to save or improve the patient’s life. With 3D scanning, the doctors will be able to diagnose different diseases and disorders at a much earlier stage.
3D scanners, especially for medical applications, can also be portable. This is especially useful for orthopedics. but also means that doctors around the world can reach more people and therefore provide them with the medical assistance they need.
High level of customization
3D scanning increases accuracy, soon we can say goodbye to heavy and uncomfortable plasters. The future of made to measure, highly personalized and much more precise casts is near. Mobile 3D scanners make it very easy to get the shape of the limb and based on that a 3D model is made and then printed. This is also speeding up the whole process.
This aspect of 3D scanning provides a much better fit and is crucial for prosthetic design. Prosthetic legs or arms make it so much easier for the users to carry out everyday tasks. But wearing them is not always easy. They are sometimes heavy and uncomfortable. 3D scanning is the solution to make the prosthesis fit perfectly to the user’s limb. Medical applications of 3D scanning clearly improve this industry.
3D printed models
3D scanning combined with 3D printing is extremely important for surgical and dental fields. Those medical applications help as early as in schools, where future doctors can practice and study different medical cases. 3D scanning has also been useful before performing surgeries as doctors can have a true look inside the patient, study tumors or other changes in the body before they begin.
Another medical application of 3D scanners is in the dental industry. Thanks to 3D scans it is so much easier to produce aligners, implants, dentures and crowns which perfect fit within the patient’s jaw. Read more about 3D printing in the dental industry here. And since we are on the topic of jaws created thanks to 3D technologies, let’s see some real-life examples of using the benefits of 3D scanning for medical applications.
A cancer survivor with a 3D printed jaw
Anelia Myburgh is from Australia and despite her young age, she already has experienced a lot in life. It all began with just a small bump she complained about, but it turned out to be a dangerous cancer tumor. A life-saving surgery left her scared forever. 80% of her upper jaw had to be removed leaving her face disfigured.
That, of course, had a huge impact on her life. Daily tasks such as eating, drinking and talking were not as easy to achieve anymore. On top of that Anelia’s face changed visually and it really brought her confidence down. All she wanted was to just look normal again. “I just want to be able to walk down the street and not have people stare,” Myburgh commented, “That is my ultimate goal.”
3D technologies came to rescue. To demonstrate and test different solutions doctors 3D printed an exact model of Anelia’s skull. There were able to take a very close look and study her case in depth to provide her with the best solution. The use of Additive Manufacturing doesn’t finish there; her new jaw implant was in fact also 3D printed! It was a fast and highly accurate way to help the patient’s case by 3D printing a titanium frame for her.
What is next for medical applications of 3D scanning?
3D scanning is already used in medical school, institutions and hospitals. Surely, soon portable 3D scanners will be a standard part of ambulance equipment and paramedics will be able to diagnose the patient even before reaching the hospital with much better accuracy. As you can see, 3D scanning is safe for the patient, quick and helps to bring the comfort of customized aids to save or improve their quality of life.
The advantages of 3D scanning and 3D printing apply not only to the medical industry. High personalization and fast production are very important in many fields. Start improving your manufacturing process today! With online 3D printing service like Sculpteo, it’s as easy as uploading your file. Don’t wait for your competitors to start 3D printing, do it yourself.