3D printing continues to transform the medical field. Recently, doctors in Spain produced the world’s first 3D-printed rib cage and sternum, which is made entirely of titanium. The doctors surgically implanted the metal rib cage and sternum in a cancer patient. Last month, the FDA approved the first 3D-printed drug. The drug, which Aprecia Pharmaceuticals has named Spritam, is for treating patients with epilepsy. Aprecia Pharmaceuticals’ ZipDose® Technology utilizes 3D printing that overlays multiple layers of powdered medication on top of one another until the correct dosage is reached. This type of technology can lead to easier-to-take medication that is individualized in nature with precise dosages based on a patient’s needs.

Current medical applications for 3D printing also include orthopedics and prosthetics, prototyping surgical operations, other skeletal reconstruction, tissue and organ replications, hearing aids, and crowns and dental implants.

Another area of advancement is the materials that are used for 3D printing. Metals and plastics are the most commonly used raw materials. The World’s Advanced Saving Project is about to unveil the world’s largest 3D printer that could build entire houses of clay, mud or natural fibers. Chalmers University of Technology recently asserted that it was able to print objects using cellulose obtained from wood pulp. We will have to see how these new types of materials are applied to the medical field.

Contact Kris Kappel for any questions about the intellectual property issues surrounding 3D medical printing.