Taiwan-Mumbai- “3D printing” is presently the buzzword in medical device manufacturing when it comes to pandemic prevention. The competitive advantages of 3D printing include customization, a wide variety of production options and it can be done on a small-scale; there is no necessity for mass production. In addition, the materials used offer biocompatibility and are toxin-free. Its application for biomedicine and human organs is safer and less risky when compared to other types of materials. With its unlimited potential, 3D printing has become an emerging force for pandemic prevention. So, Taiwan Excellence is stepping up to the challenge of creating new opportunities for the medical industry while simultaneously combating the virus. 3D printing technology can be applied widely, especially in various medical fields from organs to human tissues, to prosthetic implants, to artificial joints, to transplants, to bone scaffolding, to living cells, and to bioprinting – the list is long. Related research and development is getting more and more advanced as the tech becomes more mature. According to Young Optics, one of the winners of the Taiwan Excellence Gold Awards in 2020,its Digi-optical 3D Printer focuses on dentistry products as its target market.3D printing incorporates a multitude of materials and applications. It can be customized for individual patients as well as for mass production with great flexibility. In dental care specifically, its cost is lower than traditional dentistry methods and its overall precision is far higher than traditional artificial modelling or dental implants. Therefore, 3D printing products can now be commonly seen in the fields of dental material and dental surgery applications. In relation to Taiwan Excellence 3D printing equipment products, Young Optics (Taiwan Excellence Gold Award winner in 2020), XYZ Printing (Silver Award winner in 2020), and Microjet Technology (Excellence Award in 2018) are the 3D printing manufacturers that Taiwan Excellence can proudly promote for their outstanding pandemic prevention supplies. Among them, XYZPrinting and Microjet Technology focus on the function of color inkjet as the core technology of their products. Other 3D printer manufacturers for general design will have to face challenges to extend their utilization to medical device manufacturing due to the demands put on printing technology, precision and the conformity of the materials used.
Right now, there are manufacturers in many different countries utilizing their own technology to carry out 3D printing in the manufacture of pandemic prevention supplies, like ventilators and their expiratory valves as well as protective masks to support the urgent demand on the medical front line. Additionally,3D models of COVID-19 infected patients are being printed that can be utilized in many ways, but especially to facilitate comparison models between COVID-19 and SARS. This offers more intuitive entity analysis in medical circles and the study of infectious diseases as a whole.
There are however some concerns globally regarding the 3D printing of medical devices, like ventilators and the valves, involving the violation of patent designs or the original component manufacturers’ intellectual property rights. Moreover, the relevant regulations for medical device manufacturing, certifications, export and sales are very complicated. On top of these, the quality and hygiene of the printed products are also top priorities of cross-disciplinary application for the manufacturers in Taiwan. Many professionals have asserted that acquiring certifications and conducting rigorous test trials for these medical devices should not be overlooked. The collaboration between technology and medical manufacturing can only function properly when a well-organized deployment and pandemic prevention product ecosystem is in place. Despite these challenges, Taiwan’s 3D manufacturers are perfectly placed to lead the way in this growing industry.