IDTechEx, a market intelligence and events company focused on emerging technologies, reports that the market for 3D printed medical devices and pharmaceuticals will be worth US$6.1 billion by the year 2029.
It is a rapidly growing market with compound annual growth rates of up to 18% in certain sub-segments.
3D printing is disrupting the way we provide personalised medicine. The hearing aid industry has been transformed by 3D printing technology – the digital precision afforded by 3D printing has improved patient comfort while simultaneously decreasing manufacturing times.
3D printing in dentistry is a high-growth market, and one of the most high-profile dental products to be manufactured by 3D printing is the Invisalign transparent orthodontic aligners.
These devices are produced by Align Technology, on 3D Systems' ProX SLA printers.
The Invisalign product is designed to be aesthetically appealing, particularly to adult patients who wish to minimise the appearance of orthodontic appliances.
Moreover, as a removable device, the patient has no difficulty with eating, and oral hygiene is simplified.
Though these devices may not be suitable to treat every patient, they have been used to treat almost 6 million patients around the world. Many competitors are now seeking to profit from this large and growing market.
A more inspiring movement to emerge is the use of 3D printing to create affordable prosthetics for children.
Traditional prosthetics can cost between $5000 and $50,000 and provide an insurmountable financial challenge for parents, as children require a new prosthetic every few months.
Charitable organisations such as e-NABLE are using 3D printing to create hands and arms from open source designs to relieve this burden from parents around the world.
Not only are the prosthetics affordable, but the lead times are decreased relative to the lengthy customisation process of traditional prosthetics.
While this application has a limited contribution to the overall market value, there are significant unmet needs in the field of prosthetics that are going to be met by 3D printing technology.
IDTechEx helps guide strategic business decisions through its research, consultancy and event products, helping to identify profitable areas in emerging technologies. It has published a series of market intelligence reports related to 3D printing technology and applications.