In 3D printing, successive layers of material are formed under computer control to create an object.
These objects can be of almost any shape or geometry and are produced from a 3D model or other electronic data source.
Futurologists such as Jeremy Rifkin believe that 3D printing signals the beginning of a third industrial revolution, succeeding the production line assembly that dominated manufacturing starting in the late 19th century. Using the power of the Internet, it may eventually be possible to send a blueprint of any product to any place in the world to be replicated by a 3D printer with “elemental inks” capable of being combined into any material substance of any desired form.
3D printing in the term's original sense refers to processes that sequentially deposit material onto a powder bed with inkjet printer heads. More recently, the meaning of the term has expanded to encompass a wider variety of techniques such as extrusion and sintering-based processes. Technical standards generally use the term additive manufacturing for this broader sense.
Anatomical knowledge is a key tenet in graduate medical and surgical education. Classically, these principles are taught in the operating room during live surgical experience. This puts both the learner and the patient at a disadvantage due to environment, time, and safety constraints. Educational adjuncts such as cadaveric courses and surgical skills didactics have been shown to improve resident confidence and proficiency in both anatomical knowledge and surgical techniques. However, the cost effectiveness of these courses is a limiting factor, and in many cases prevents implementation within institutional training programs. Anatomical simulation in the form of “desktop” 3D printing provides a cost-effective adjunct while maintaining educational value 1)
Previous works took the construction of the burr hole ring as an example, described the process of using softwares like computer aided design (CAD), Pro/Engineer (Pro/E) and 3D printer to construct physical products. That is, a total of three steps are required, the drawing of 2D-image, the construction of 3D-image of burr hole ring, and using a 3D printer to print the physical model of burr hole ring. This protocol shows that the burr hole ring made of carbon fiber can be rapidly and accurately molded by 3D printing. It indicated that both CAD and Pro/E softwares can be used to construct the burr hole ring via integrating with the clinical imaging data and further applied 3D printing to make the individual consumables 2).
Two patients with cranial defects were presented to describe the 3D printing technique for cranial reconstruction. A digital prosthesis model is designed and manufactured with the aid of a 3D computed tomography. Both the data of large sized cranial defects and the prosthesis are transferred to a 3D printer to obtain a physical model in poly-lactic acid which is then used in a laboratory to cast the final customised prosthesis in polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA).
A precise compliance of the prosthesis to the osseous defect was achieved. At the 6 month postoperative follow-up no complications were observed i.e. rejection, toxicity, local or systemic infection, and the aesthetic change was very significant and satisfactory. Customized 3D PMMA prosthesis offers cost advantages, a great aesthetic result, reduced operating time and good biocompatibility 3).