Additive manufacturing in medical sciences: past, present and the future

Lakshya P. Rathore, Naina Verma


Additive manufacturing (AM) is a novel technique that despite having been around for more than 35 years, has been underutilized. Its great advantage lies in the basic fact that it is incredibly customizable. Since its use was recognized in various fields of medicine like orthopaedics, otorhinolaryngology, ophthalmology etc, it has proved to be one of the most promising developments in most of them. Customizable orthotics, prosthetics and patient specific implants and tracheal splints are few of its advantages. And in the future too, the combination of tissue engineering with AM is believed to produce an immense change in biological tissue replacement.


Additive manufacturing, Tissue engineering, 3D printing, Bioink

Full Text:



Mohammad T, Prashant KJ. Role of build orientation in layered manufacturing: a review. Int J Manufacturing Tech Management. 2013;27:1-3.

Chhaya MP, Poh PS, Balmayor ER, van Griensven M, Schantz JT, Hutmacher DW. Additive manufacturing in biomedical sciences and the need for definitions and norms. Expert Rev Med Devices. 2015;12(5):537-43.

Schmid M, Amado A, Wegener K. Materials perspective of polymers for additive manufacturing with selective laser sintering. J Mater Res. 2014;29:1824-32.

Terry W, Tim G. History of additive manufacturing. Wohlers Report; 2014: 36-78.

Kodama H. Automatic method for fabricating a three-dimensional plastic model with photo-hardening polymer. Rev Sci Instrum. 1981;52(11):1770-3.

Kodama H. A scheme for three-dimensional display by automatic fabrication of three-dimensional model. IEICE Trans Electron Jpn Ed. 1981;J64-C (4): 237-241.

Murphy SV, Atala A. 3D bioprinting of tissues and organs. Nat Biotechnol. 2014;32(8):773-85.

Zhu W, Ma X, Gou M, Mei D, Zhang K, Chen S. 3D printing of functional biomaterials for tissue engineering. Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2016;40:103-12.

Cummins. The rise of additive manufacturing. The engineer. Available at: http://www.theengineer. additive-manufacturing/. Accessed 20 July 2018.

Rengier F, Mehndiratta A, von Tengg-Kobligk H, Zechmann CM, Unterhinninghofen R, Kauczor HU, et al. 3D printing based on imaging data: review of medical applications. Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg. 2010;5(4):335-41.

Wengerter BC, Emre G, Park JY, Geibel J. Three-dimensional printing in the intestine. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016;14:1081-5.

Mironov V, Boland T, Trusk T, Forgacs G, Markwald RR. Organ printing: computer-aided jet-based 3D tissue engineering. Trends Biotechnol. 2003;21:157-61.

Sun W, Lal P. Recent development on computer aided tissue engineering: a review. Comput. Methods Programs Biomed. 2002;67:85-103.

Sanghera B, Naique S, Papaharilaou Y, Amis A. Preliminary study of rapid prototype medical models. Rapid Prototyping J. 2001;7:275-84.

Bizzotto N, Tami I, Santucci A, Adani R, Poggi P, Romani D, et al. 3D printed replica of articular fractures for surgical planning and patient consent: a two years multicenter experience. 3D Print Med. 2015;2:2.

Zhang YZ, Chen B, Lu S, Yang Y, Zhao JM, Liu R, et al. Preliminary application of computer assisted patient-specific acetabular navigational template for total hip arthroplasty in adult single developmental dysplasia of hip. Int J Med Robot. 2011;7:469-74.

Tunchel S, Blay A, Kolerman R, Mijiritsky E, Shibli JA. 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing Single Titanium Dental Implants: A Prospective Multicenter Study with 3 Years of Follow-Up. Int J Dent. 2016;2016:8590971.

Murr LE, Gaytan SM, Medina F, Lopez H, Martinez E, Machado BI, et al. Next generation biomedical implants using additive manufacturing of complex, cellular and functional mesh arrays. Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2010;368:1999-2032.

Vaezi M, Black C, Gibbs DM, Oreffo RO, Brady M, Moshrefi-Torbati M, et al. Characterization of new PEEK/HA composites with 3D HA network fabricated by extrusion freeforming. Molecules 2016;21(6):E687.

Renson L, Poilvache P, Van den Wyngaert H. Improved alignment and operating room efficiency with patient specific instrumentation for TKA. Knee. 2014;21:1216-20.

Tack P, Victor J, Gemmel P, Annemans L. 3D-printed techniques in a medical setting: a systematic literature review. Biomed Eng Online. 2016;15:115.

Victor J, Premanathan A. virtual 3D planning and patient specific surgical guides for osteotomies around the knee: a feasibility and proof-of-concept study. Bone Joint J. 2013;95-B (Suppl A):153-8.

Bellanova L, Paul L, Docquier PL. Surgical guides (patient specific instruments) for paediatric tibial bone sarcoma resection and allograft reconstruction. Sarcoma. 2013;2013:787653.

Gouin F, Paul L, Odri GA, Cartiaux O. Computer assisted planning and patient specific instruments for bone tumor resection within the pelvis: a series of 11 patients. Sarcoma. 2014;2014:842709.

Natalia W, Filip Górski, Radosław W, Wiesław K. Prototyping of Individual Ankle Orthosis Using Additive Manufacturing Technologies. Adv Sci Technol Res J. 2017;11(3):283–8.

Stephen PH, Adam W, Anson WK Ma. Prosthesis Development Utilizing Additive Manufacturing and Low-Cost Electronics. 10.13140/RG.2.2.24564. 65923. Available at: publication/319834536_Prosthesis_Development_Utilizing_Additive_Manufacturing_and_Low-Cost_Electronics. Accessed on 20 July 2018.

Mills DK. Future Medicine: The Impact of 3D Printing. Nanomater Mol Nanotechnol. 2015;4(3):1000163.

Guo S-Z, Qiu K, Meng F, Park SH, McAlpine MC. 3D Printed Stretchable Tactile Sensors. Adv Mat. 2017:29(27):1701218.

Mawale MB, Kuthe A, Pawane P, Dahake SW, Jyotilal S. Development of a Device in Detection of Glaucoma for Rural Eye Care Using Additive Manufacturing and TRIZ. Molecular Cellular Biomechanics. 2016;13(2):105-14.

Ju Y, Wang BL, Xie JZ, Huang LW, Huang SH, Huang XY. Dynamic model of the aqueous humor circulation with application to simulation of the treatment for primary open angle glaucoma. Proceedings of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology 27th Annual Conference Shanghai. 2005;1:15-18.

Hitchings RA. Glaucoma: an area of darkness. Eye. 2009;23:1764-1774.

Sheng CH. 3D Printing and Ophthalmology for the Community. J Cytol Histol. 2015;6:4.

Suaste-Gomez E, Rodríguez-Roldan G, Reyes-Cruz H, Teran-Jimenez O. Developing an ear prosthesis fabricated in polyvinylidene fluoride by a 3D printer with sensory intrinsic properties of pressure and temperature. Sensors. 2016;16(332):1-11.

Sharma R. The 3D printing revolution you have not heard about, Forbes. 2013: 17e16. Accessed on 20 July 2018.

Choi JW, Kim N. Clinical application of three-dimensional printing technology in craniofacial plastic surgery. Arch Plast Surg. 2015;42(3):267-77.

Zopf DA, Hollister SJ, Nelson ME, Ohye RG, Green GE. Bioresorbable airway splint created with a three-dimensional printer. N Engl J Med. 2013;368:2043-5.

Díaz Lantada A, Valle-Fernández RD, Morgado PL, Muñoz-García J, Muñoz Sanz JL, Munoz-Guijosa JM, et al. Development of persoanlised annuloplasty rings: comination of CT images and CAD-CAM tools. Ann Biomed Eng. 2010;38:280-90.

Sodian R, Haeberie S, Weber S. Medical rapid prototyping (MRP) in adult and paediatric cardiac surgery. Thoracic Cardiovasc Surg. 2011;59:P15.

Stone J, Candela B, Alleluia V, Fazili A, Richards M, Feng C, et al. A novel technique for simulated surgical procedures using 3D printed technology. J Urol. 2015;193(suppl):270.

Xu Y, Fan F, Kang N, et al. Tissue engineering of human nasal alar cartilage precisely by using three-dimensional printing. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2015;135:451-8.

Watson RA. A low cost surgical application of additive fabrication. J Surg Educ. 2014;71:14-7.

Zhu W, Ma X, Gou M, Mei D, Zhang K, Chen S. 3D printing of functional biomaterials for tissue engineering. Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2016;40:103-112.

Gibbs DMR, Vaezi M, Yang S, Oreffo RO. Hope versus hype : what can additive manufacturing realistically offer treauma and orthoapedic surgery? Regen Med. 2014;9:835-49.

Bian W, Li D, Lian Q, Jin Z. Fabrication of a bio-inspired beta-Tricalcium phosphate/collagen scaffold based on ceramic sterolithography and gel casting for osteochondral tissue engineering. Rapid Prototyping J. 2012;18:68-80.

Du Y, Liu H, Shuang J, Wang J, Ma J, Zhang S. microsphere based selective sintering for building macroporous bone scaffolds with controlled microstructure and excellent biocompatibility. Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. 2015;135:81-9.

Murphy SV, Atala A. 3D bioprinting of tissues and organs. Nat Biotechnol. 2014;32:773-785.

Huang W, Zhang X. 3D Printing: Print the future of ophthalmology. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2014;55(8):5380-1.