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3D printed medical tools are becoming much more ubiquitous now thanks to more affordable printers and wider availability of additive materials. The medical community isn't waiting around in taking 3D printers and printing many different medical tools that are already helping patients. You've likely already heard about how 3D printers creating prosthetic limbs for amputees. But you perhaps haven't heard about the countless other medical tools being made that help solve very complex medical issues along with basic ones.
Out of all this, the Food and Drug Administration has tried to keep a watchful eye on the medical community printing these devices. While hi-tech medical manufacturing companies are likely keeping an eye peeled, reports are that the FDA may step in soon and further evaluate what's being made.
Would this place some restrictions or delays on certain devices that are already helping many people?
Examples of What's Being Created
In the above report from Live Science, everything from skull implants to tracheal splints are being designed to help people recover from complex medical issues that would have otherwise been impossible to correct. It even goes into more basic territory of dental implants and hearing aids to help patients gain quicker access to tools that usually require longer wait times. Even surgical instruments are being made to use in the operating room.
With this kind of quicker access, the FDA seems concerned at the safety of these devices and whether they'd have any aspect of risk to the patient. They already look at 3D printing as they do with all other medical tools being pushed to market. However, the FDA may soon start asking doctors making these tools to provide further information about a device's effectiveness. The FDA already has a couple of labs they use to test 3D-printed devices to see whether the tweaks done to them would cause any harm to patients.
Now we have to wonder whether any prolonged testing on these devices will put long delays on their availability.
Will the FDA Meddle too Much?
As we all know from other exciting medical discoveries, the FDA sometimes takes years before releasing them to the market. Would their stricter control of 3D-printed medical devices end up delaying some of them so patients can't get access for years?
It's certainly a possibility, and it could slow down the immediate access 3D printing has allowed to so many patients so far. Thanks to computer design methods beforehand, many of those devices are customized to easily fit any part of a person's anatomy. With the Wall Street Journal showing just how far this can go in printing other medical tools, we can only hope the FDA doesn't bog it all down with testing that goes on for far too long.