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A 3D Printing Opportunity for Sleep Apnea Patients

By Staff Writter

A 3D Printing Opportunity for Sleep Apnea Patients

Technology

A 3D Printing Opportunty has been developed for health care professionals who are helping patients deal with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea, a condition in which the throat is blocked during sleep, is a problem that afflicts 22 million Americans. It causes people to sleep fitfully resulting in drowsiness during the day. Long term it can cause everything from cardiovascular disease to diabetes if left untreated.

One solution to the problem has been developed by an Australian company called CSIRO in the form of a 3d printed mouthpiece. A scanner is used to create a map of the patient’s mouth. Then the map is used by a 3D printer to create a custom fitted mouthpiece. The appliance is made of titanium and medical grade plastic. The patient wears the device at night to make sure that an obstruction does not occur from the muscles relaxing in the back of the throat. It contains a titanium spout protruding from the patient's mouth when in use, enabling a clear airflow to the back of the throat. The 3D printed device provides a degree of relief that cannot be achieved with similar appliances made with more conventional manufacturing methods.

There are more expensive ways to deal with sleep apnea, including an appliance that forces air down the throat during sleep and even surgery to remove tissue from the back of the throat. The Australian device will be a new solution in the mix to help sleep apnea patients sleep more soundly and stave off the more serious complications that the condition can cause. The 3D printed sleep apnea device should be available sometime in 2015.