Recap: From Hype to Health: How 3D Printing is Shaping the Future
As the title of the October 21st Girl Geeks TO meetup would imply, there is a great deal of hype surrounding 3D printing. Additive technologies often referred to as 3D printing, present boundless opportunities for innovation and creativity. Additive manufacturing is a catchall term for all types of 3D printing, rapid prototyping, additive fabrication, and direct manufacturing technologies. At the meetup, Dr. Farzad Rayegani and Dr. Rita Kandel provided awe-inspiring explanations of how additive manufacturing is applied to the areas of engineering and regenerative medicine.
At present, post secondary institutions are almost ubiquitously using 3D printing in some means. The Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies (CAMDT) at Sheridan College is a state-of-the-art lab lead by Dr. Farzad Rayegani. The lab allows students across disciplines the freedom to design so that “they don’t need to think about how to manufacture, they can [instead] think about the application and the end-user” said Dr. Rayegani. 3D production systems are reshaping the manufacturing industry as they provide the capability to efficiently produce highly customizable parts. This customization helps individuals like Emma, a four-year old born with a condition that prevented her from being able to lift her arms by her own strength. Customized “magic arms” were built for Emma using 3D parts, giving her the ability to move her arms.
Following Dr. Rayegani’s introduction to medical applications of 3D printing, Dr. Kandel introduced her research in developing a biological treatment for arthritis. Dr. Kandel is part of a team of investigators across the province of Ontario that is using additive manufacturing to develop novel treatments for arthritis. Dr. Kandel’s team has spent many years developing a bone and tissue substitute that mimics the composition of a joint. To the sound of adulation from the meetup crowd she announced that the substance they have designed allows natural bone to grow into the porous structure. Eventually the cycle of bone growth will erode the structure resulting in a joint with no foreign material. In Dr. Kandel’s research additive manufacturing fits the specific need of customization for each individual patient.
Hype aside, this Girl Geeks meetup delivered informative discussions of end-use applications for 3D printing. Both talks shared the common thread of the opportunities that arise from the advanced customization of additive manufacturing processes. Dr. Rayegani and Dr. Kandel both provided insights of how additive manufacturing is being applied in exciting ways to their respective fields.