Trends in the Indian Medical 3D Printing Sector at AMSI Bangalore 2023


India, a country with a population of nearly one and a half billion, is witnessing a growing potential market for 3D printed healthcare applications. Recently, the Additive Manufacturing Society of India’s (AMSI) conference in Bangalore shed light on the use of additive manufacturing in the healthcare sector in the world’s second most populated country. At the conference, medical experts spoke about how they believe technology has the power to change millions of lives.

Dr. Anil Kumar P R, a scientist from the Biomedical Wing at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), said, “Incorporating 3D printing technologies in the healthcare sector is a game-changer. It has the potential to transform many lives by providing affordable, customized medical devices and solutions to millions of patients.” Dr. Kumar highlighted that the healthcare sector in India is rapidly adopting 3D printing, especially in orthopedics and dental applications with the use of metal 3D printed parts. Polymer 3D printing is also on the rise.

The conference included a panel discussion addressing the latest developments in 3D printed biomedical applications, focusing on materials, technologies, adoption, standards, and regulations. Dr. Shiny Velayudhan, a scientist from the Biomedical Technology Wing at SCTIMST, divided the focus of medical 3D printing into two categories: 3D printing of implants and bioprinting with living cells. For load-bearing applications, clinicians currently prefer using titanium. Ceramics are also being used due to their biocompatibility and suitability for 3D printing implants and medical devices that need to be integrated into the body. Ceramic materials commonly used in medical 3D printing include TCP, bio black, and hydroxyapatite. However, Dr. Velayudhan explained that although ceramic materials are not very strong, they are suitable for maxillofacial applications due to their shapeable nature.

Bioprinting, an emerging field in medical 3D printing, poses its own challenges. Dr. Velayudhan identified collagen as the “best material” for bioprinting, but noted that it is insoluble in water and difficult to work with. She suggested that using an acidic medium can help overcome some of these challenges. However, since cells die when the pH is above or below 7.3 to 7.8, collagen cannot be directly used as a printing medium. Clinicians modify gelatin and use it as a medium for bioprinting.

Dr. Suman Singh, Principal Scientist & Head, MSSA, Central Scientific Instruments Organization (CSIR-CSIO), and Advisor at Indian Women in 3D Printing (IW3DP), compared 3D printing in orthopedics and dental applications to its success in the aerospace sector. She emphasized that clinicians are eager to use customized implants created with 3D printing materials and technologies. However, some clinicians hesitate due to concerns about testing validations, regulations, and other factors. Dr. Singh stressed the need for proper awareness and action plans for the adoption and commercialization of these technologies, especially in the field of bioprinting, which she described as a nascent area in India.

Dr. Singh further pointed out that the wider 3D printing industry has not been extensively explored in the Indian market due to the absence of action plans, government policies, and regulations. Without addressing these issues, the adoption of 3D printing in the biomedical sector, as well as other verticals, will face significant challenges. To enable tissue engineering and advance the science behind engineering cells into tissues, there is a need to delve deeper into the engineering side.

In conclusion, India’s healthcare sector is rapidly adopting 3D printing, particularly in orthopedics and dental applications. However, there are still challenges to overcome, such as the development of suitable materials for bioprinting and the need for proper awareness and action plans for widespread adoption. With the potential to provide affordable and customized medical solutions, 3D printing technologies hold the promise of transforming millions of lives in India.

Advancements in 3D printing technology have the potential to revolutionize the medical field, potentially eliminating the need for organ transplants. Alok Medikepura Anil, Co-Founder and Director at Next Big Innovation Labs (NBIL), spoke about the potential of 3D printing in the medical sector, emphasizing the importance of materials and the capabilities of 3D printers.

One material that was highlighted by the panelists is PEEK, a biocompatible material that has already been approved for medical use. “This material can be used for certain implants and rotating structures that could be 3D printed using regular 3D printers,” said Medikepura.

When it comes to bioprinting, the challenge lies in scaling up to human anatomical size. “To do this, the employed bioprinter must be very fast, as most of them are very slow,” explained Dr. Shiny Velayudhan. This poses a challenge because living cells cannot be printed for extended periods of time.

However, one of the major obstacles in the development of 3D printing in the medical field is the lack of set standards and regulations. Dr. Velayudhan emphasized the need for clear standards and regulations to guide the development and use of bioprinted tissues and organs, as well as the development of new bioprinting technologies. Without these standards, progress in the field would be hindered.

Medikepura stressed the importance of regulatory policies being in place for mainstream consumer adoption of 3D printing in the medical sector. He noted that the current regulatory bodies in India are not fully equipped to handle biomaterials that can be used inside the human body. Approval processes for innovative biomaterials are often lengthy and challenging.

One positive development in the regulatory landscape is the Modernization Act published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in December 2022. This act allows pharmaceutical companies to explore computer-based models, such as artificial intelligence, and alternatives to animal testing, such as human-like tissues developed through bioprinting. This enables faster and more cost-effective drug development processes.

Looking to the future, Medikepura believes that India should take a leadership position in additive manufacturing. However, this can only happen with the establishment of regulatory policies that support the adoption of these technologies.

In conclusion, the potential of 3D printing in the medical sector is vast, but it is crucial to have clear standards and regulations in place to ensure its safe and effective use. With the right regulatory framework, the medical field can benefit greatly from the advancements in 3D printing technology, potentially transforming the way we address organ transplants and other medical procedures.

Original source


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