Charles Hull, the American inventor of the 3D printer, declared in an Informationweek interview that he was truly amazed at the advancement in 3D printing technologies. He said that the medical applications to 3D printing was one of the applications of his invention that he admired the most.
“I think the first one that impacted me was surgical planning”, declared Hull. Talking about the recent uses of 3D printing in health care, he said that the fact that doctors are now able to scan patients’ bodies and use the scan in order to replicate the insides of the patient, and basically create a model of the part of the body that needs surgery, has been “amazing” to him. This allows surgeons to practice before the real surgery.
“The first one that struck me was on conjoined twins, added Hull. That’s a very successful surgery now, with detailed planning. There are people walking around today who were born as conjoined twins, but now have normal lives.”
Recently, Chinese doctors have used 3D printers to scan and print copies of a woman’s pelvis, which was shattered following a fall from a balcony. They created a 3D model that included all of the patient’s dislocations and fractures. They used the model to practice doing the surgery and were able to perform the real surgery on the patient with relative ease.
According to a study conducted by Visiongain, the 3D printing market will be a business of more than 4 billion dollars by 2018.
According to Hull, price drops in materials and printers can also bring 3D printing to the home. This means that manufacturing – at least some parts of the business – could be moved into homes around the world, however “I think that’s a futuristic thought. I’m never much of a futurist,” said Hull.
According to him, “there are no barriers in the future. A lot of manufacturing could be moved locally or even to the home, but to me that’s quite a ways in the future.”
Charles Hull founded 3D Systems in 1986. Today, 3D Systems is working towards speeding up 3D printing and reducing costs. It’s also working towards “food printing”, which according to Hull, could help reduce world hunger in the next few years.
Charles Hull was nominated for the European Inventor Award. The ceremony will take place in Berlin, Germany, on June 17.
What do you think? Discuss in the 3D Printing Advancement thread on 3DPB.com
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