Enabling personalized implant and controllable biosystem development through 3D printing

Biotechnol Adv. 2018 Mar-Apr;36(2):521-533. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2018.02.004. Epub 2018 Feb 9.


The impact of additive manufacturing in our lives has been increasing constantly. One of the frontiers in this change is the medical devices. 3D printing technologies not only enable the personalization of implantable devices with respect to patient-specific anatomy, pathology and biomechanical properties but they also provide new opportunities in related areas such as surgical education, minimally invasive diagnosis, medical research and disease models. In this review, we cover the recent clinical applications of 3D printing with a particular focus on implantable devices. The current technical bottlenecks in 3D printing in view of the needs in clinical applications are explained and recent advances to overcome these challenges are presented. 3D printing with cells (bioprinting); an exciting subfield of 3D printing, is covered in the context of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine and current developments in bioinks are discussed. Also emerging applications of bioprinting beyond health, such as biorobotics and soft robotics, are introduced. As the technical challenges related to printing rate, precision and cost are steadily being solved, it can be envisioned that 3D printers will become common on-site instruments in medical practice with the possibility of custom-made, on-demand implants and, eventually, tissue engineered organs with active parts developed with biorobotics techniques.

Keywords: Biomedical devices; Bioprinting; Biorobotics; Implants; Personalized medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bioprinting*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Precision Medicine*
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional*
  • Prostheses and Implants
  • Robotics
  • Tissue Engineering*