3D printing for healthcare applications

A new issue I could deal with, during these last weeks, has been the additive manufacturing (known by the most of us as 3D print).

Part of the work at WeMake is done thanks to the 3d printers, machines that materialize objects from digital projects and templates. There are different types of 3D printers according to the type of material, process and size of manufacturing. The additive manufacturing is one of the most commons; the material i’ve seen so far is a kind of plastic wire warmed and turned into layers added on a base on which in few hours any object can take shape. There are prototypes and test objects all over the scaffolds and tables. After a while you get used to such unusual presence and start to think of materializing by print whatever. Really.

In the past week Costantino and I went to Fondazione Bassetti in Milan to listen to Professor Jos Malda from Utrecht University about 3D printing in the biomedica sector.

Moreover, I could discuss with some of the makers about possibile uses of printing cells and what are the scenarios about it. We talked also about the possibility to print food.

When it comes to 3D printing everybody is open to discussion here.

A meeting with Rune and other collaborators turned in a interesting discussion about including patients in the process of manufacturing hands, or prothesis to grab forks and spoons to make people who miss some fingers, the hand or an arm, autonomous with eating. There are so many different applications and by 3D print it seems a viable way to save costs and have a just in time do it yourself scalable production of whatever the patient needs.

Of course there are many issues about copyright, legal implications, safety, patenting and certification. What is sure is the interest not only at WeMake and other fab labs, but from the bigger community of innovators taking action inside opencare framework.

Is there an agenda?

The team at WeMake probably know this, but what informs the amount of work of a makerspace/ fab lab puts into projects of care (underwritten by values like affordability, accessibility, inclusivity of whatever products are #D printed) versus the more commercially driven products?

Is there an agenda of sorts? For example, the FabCity network apparently are going for building urban ecosystems: “obliging cities to produce 50% of everything that is consumed in a city to be local by 2054 using new production methods” (from Yannick’s post on medium.comAt that level, care seems to be very abstractivized…  whereas a local fab lab agenda could be of much more interest to opencare.