Editor’s Pick: 3D Printing for Biomedical Applications: Where Are We Now?

Estomba et al. discuss the applications for additive manufacturing printing technology across
the field of medicine, particularly those of three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting. 3D printing
has the potential to become a game changer in medicine and surgery by improving the
procedural planning of surgical interventions and by helping young doctors to refine their
skills in settings where its use may simulate real life scenarios. The welcomed possibility of
3D printing in the design and manufacture of tailored implants and biocompatible scaffolds is
also introduced. Dr Pierfrancesco Agostoni

*Carlos Miguel Chiesa Estomba,1 Iago González Fernández,2 Manuel Ángel Iglesias Otero2

1. Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery Department, Donostia University Hospital, San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain
2. DQbito Biomedical Engineering, Baiona, Pontevedra, Spain
*Correspondence to chiesaestomba86@gmail.com

Disclosure: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest.
Received: 30.09.16 Accepted: 10.01.17
Citation: EMJ. 2017;2[1]:16-22.


Three-dimensional (3D) printing is an additive manufacturing process. This technology provides us with the opportunity to create 3D structures by adding material on a layer-by-layer basis, using different kinds of materials such as ceramics, metals, plastics, and polymers. Nowadays, tissue engineering investigations are taking place on a widespread basis in the fields of regeneration, restoration, or replacement of defective or injured functional living organs and tissues. For this reason, it is important to understand the basic concept of 3D bioprinting as a tool for producing a 3D structure combining living cells and biomaterials and controlling cell proliferation, attachment, and migration within 3D structures. There are a variety of applications for additive manufacturing printing technology available to surgeons at this moment, like scaled models for preoperative planning based prosthetics or custom implants and biocompatible scaffolds. Moreover, this technology can be used as a tool to improve surgical and medical education, by using simulation models and utilising its potential to replicate complex anatomy by employing distinct materials that mimic the characteristics of the native tissue in an effort to increase patient safety through repetition of common procedures.

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