The U.S. FDA defines prosthetics as a category of medical devices intended to replace missing body parts, either inside or on the surface of the body. As such, the category can include both external prostheses like artificial limbs, and internal ones like joint replacement devices.
Prostheses can be quite expensive to obtain, driven by regulatory-related expenses, the price of advanced materials used in the devices, and hospital costs. Although health insurance may cover some this, the resulting balance can still be relatively high, especially in the United States.
Another major problem with prostheses available in the market today is lack of comfort, especially with external prosthetic devices. It usually takes up to two years for a new patient to get used to the feel of their prosthetic device. Wearing external prostheses them for long hours continuously is often difficult and painful. Many patients also feel embarrassed by the look of the external prostheses.
In this article, we will explore the current methods used to manufacture prosthetic devices, and we will evaluate what advantages can be gained by using 3D printing to address the above mentioned issues. … (Read more)