Designing 3D Printed Medical Devices

If you had a thousand dollars ten years ago, would you invest in a 3D printing company like 3D Systems (DDD) or Align Technology (ALGN)? (Figure 1) Obviously, one can draw conclusions based on retrospective data shown below, but one could also argue that 3D printing is still an emerging technology and that as an industry its growth potential could outpace that of a specific medtech company. Both arguments are sound. History does not necessarily predict the future, and this blog does not aim to give investment advice. However, the story of a brilliant technology company looking for the killer app to thrive is an all-too-frequent rerun in the entrepreneur world, 3D printing or otherwise. There are a lot of cool things we can make, but only a handful of ideas can break through to change the industrial landscape, fate, and humanity. I am an outsider to the additive manufacturing industry, an end user and provider in healthcare, and it is my opinion that 3D printing needs the healthcare industry, and not the other way around. At least not yet. During our recent virtual mini conference focusing on “Design for 3D Printed Medical Devices”, Jade Myers (Rochester Institute of Technology, Visiting Scientist/Adjunct Faculty, Rochester, NY) and Nicholas Jacobson (Translational Research Faculty- CU Anschutz, CEO-MIX Surgical Technologies) provided design insights of 3D printed medical devices they were working on used in dramatically different environments.  This article aims to summarize some takeaways from this conference. 

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