Medical 3-D Printing- The Future?

In a recent report from Gartner, a company specialized in identifying trends in technologies has applied their Hyper Cycle model to determined that 3D printing for medical devices has entered a critical next phase in its lifecycle.

As you can see from the above chart which depicts the Hyper Cycle life span, 3D printed devices have hit their Peak of Inflated Expectations, which means broader applications are close at hand (2-5 Years).

Pete Basiliere, research director at Gartner, says of the 3D Printing Hype Cycle, “In the healthcare industry, 3DP is already in mainstream use to produce medical items that need to be tailored to individuals, such as hearing aids and dental devices.”
“All of the major hearing aid manufacturers now offer devices that are personalized to the shape of the customer’s ear. This is evidence that using 3DP for mass customization of consumer goods is now viable, especially given that the transition from traditional manufacturing in this market took less than two years. Routine use of 3DP for dental implants is also not far from this level of market maturity.”
— http://goo.gl/qKGku8

It is clear that 3D printed devices continue to evolve, however it is unclear exactly how these changes will effect the established business models.  Though the current focus is primarily on 3 area for 3D printed technologies (External Devices, Clinical Study Devices and Surface Texturing Implants, Source: http://goo.gl/O4FWWd ) the future is still unwritten to how far the new manufacturing methods can push the standards of care.  From additive metal manufacturing methods to 3D printing of biologic materials, the future continues to evolve and it is critical as we envision the future of health care that these unique technologies are included in the way we think about the solutions.