Additive Manufacturing for Robust and Affordable Medical Devices

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Virginia Tech

Additive manufacturing in the form of 3D printing is a revolutionary technology that has developed within the last two decades. Its ability to print an object with accurate features down to the micro scale have made its use in medical devices and research feasible. A range of life-saving technologies can now go from the laboratory and into field with the application of 3D-printing.

This technology can be applied to medical diagnosis of patients in at-risk populations. Living biosensors are limited by being Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) from being employed for medical diagnosis. However, by containing them within a 3D-printed enclosure, these technologies can serve as a vehicle to translate life-saving diagnosis technologies from the laboratory and into the field where the lower cost would allow more people to benefit from inexpensive diagnosis. Also, the GMO biosensors would be contained with a press-fit, ensuring that the living biosensors are unable to escape into the environment without user input.

In addition, 3D-printing can also be applied to reduce the cost of lab-based technologies. Cell patterning technology is a target of interest for applying more cost-effective technologies, as elucidation of the variables defining cell patterning and motility may help explain the mechanics of cancer and other diseases. Through the use of a 3D-printed stamp, bacterial cells can be patterning without the use of a clean room, thus lowering the entry-barrier for researchers to explore cell patterning.

With the commercialization of 3D-printing an opportunity has arisen to transition life-saving technologies into more cost-effective versions of existing technologies. This would not only allow more research into existing fields, but also to ensure that potentially life-saving technologies reach the people that need them.

Synthetic biology, biosensor, 3D-printing, GMO, bacterial patterning