1
$\begingroup$

We need a 3D printer, that can print with plastic suitable for medical applications. We have about $5000 for the printer. What printers can we choose? I am not a specialist in 3D printing, so please answer in detail.

We need to print breathing tubes with cuffs. The tubes should be flexible, but rigid enough in order not to collapse. The cuff material should be thin and collapsible, but very strong. Breathing tubes are inserted through the mouth and stay in contact with mucous membrane for many hours.

$\endgroup$
4
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ You need to be very specific about "medical" applications. Do you mean prosthetics? braces for broken bones? Inserts? Skull reconstruction? This site is mostly filled with 3D printing enthusiasts who work mostly with FDM printers(and some lucky may have SLA). While these printers are great for creators and hobbyist. It might not be "professional" enough for something serious like medical. But that depends on what your looking to make with them. Please refine your question. $\endgroup$ – Athanasios Karagiannis Nov 8 '17 at 16:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I agree with Athanasios. Additionally, a "plastic suitable for medical applications" is not well defined. Different plastics may be suitable or unsuitable depending on the specific application. On the body or in the body? Strength (rigid) or flexibility? If you want to make a brace or cast, most plastics are GRAS for external contact with skin, but prolonged contact may be a different matter. $\endgroup$ – Jesse Williams Nov 8 '17 at 16:26
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ It is materials that you need to research, rather than printers. The materials that you want to use will then define which printers (or types of printer) are suitable. What research have you done yourself? We are not here to Google for you. Google gave this as its first hit for "3d printing material for medical applications": Medical Applications for 3D Printing: Current and Projected Uses $\endgroup$ – Mick Nov 8 '17 at 16:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ How about a Formlabs Form 2? You can use flexible resin (although expensive) to print. I dont suggest getting a standard 3D printer because of it being build up in layers. SLA printer create a solid 1 piece print. $\endgroup$ – Granny Nov 17 '17 at 8:49
3
$\begingroup$

I am not an expert but I think you will find that because 3D printers use a layer by layer construction method, and the boundary between the layers creates grooves along the surface or leaves a rough texture on the surface. That the textured surface left by 3D printer construction would trap microbes and make 3D printed objects not suitable for medical applications where you need the product to be sterile.

It might be possible to treat the printed object or post process it. By vapor smoothing or painting/coating, but I doing think this would work for flexible materials.

If you are considering 3D printing because of the ability to customize the design, then I would suggest considering combining 3D printing with molding or casting. You could then use a cheap 3D printer to create the mold and use a flexible resin to create the object you want.

I have heard of SLA 3D printing being used to create molds for casting fake teeth. There 3D printing is used to create a custom shape and the print is used to make a mold and the final product is cast using the mold to get the quality and finish needed.

And I have head of FDM printing being used in used in remote areas to print clamps for umbilical cords. But I believe this was because not no other option was available.

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

Not in that price range

5000 USD might sound much, but it is far outside of the scope of an industrial 3D printer. You ask to print parts that are safe for implantation, so you need a machine that is allowed to produce medical implants. A machine that makes medical products needs to have them certified by the authorities. These demand strict tests on quality control and the materials allowed are specifically listed.

Machines that could work with these materials in the quality demanded are expensive. For example I found with a quick search a nice article: there are SLS printed bones out there - yet an industrial (certified) SLS printer costs several times the budget you have at hand. The same article suggested that 3D Bioprinting has had enough advancements recently to produce heart valves, but the product is undergoing medical tests still. So pretty much both of these examples (and most others on that site) are out of bounds for the finances at hand or are not approved for use on humans.

There are some medical tool application that can be 3D Printed though: the mentioned umbilical cord clamps or other solid one-way articles like clamps or spreaders could be made safely from medical grade plastics, yet your chosen material and designed parts will need to undergo medical safety testing - and thus from prototyping to allowance to use it you will spend months or years waiting. This makes this over all much more expensive than using standard one-way baloon cuffed endotracheal tubes. These do contain one unprintable part even: the balloon.

Non-implant/non-invasive medical aides like the prothetics of enabling the future project are one of the safe applications for 3D printing in medicine at the time of this writing, and they are doable inside a 5000 USD budget.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Find another medical facility that is doing it, and ask what equipment and filament they use. They may also have a source for medical related models.

I would expect medical stuff to be regulated by the FDA, so there are probably limitations on what you can get.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.