Exploring the effect that 3-D printing has — and could have — on healthcare design.

In the future, we may not only see 3-D printing being used within healthcare environments — the technology might be used to actually build them. Architects are no strangers to 3-D printing’s structural possibilities: A home being built in China. A museum in Dubai. A bridge in Amsterdam. The healthcare community is taking advantage 3-D print technology offerings and is setting its sights on even greater possibilities. In a Healthcare Design Magazine piece, executive editor Jennifer Kovacs Silvis offers the following insight into 3-D developments already being implemented:

I knew about the possibilities today (printing prosthetics) and in the more distant future (printing organs and bone). I knew that this might likely call for yet another reevaluation of healthcare spaces, especially the OR—perhaps making room for today’s hybrid capabilities as well as tomorrow’s 3-D printing so that newly printed organs might be immediately and seamlessly transplanted to a recipient.

Still, with all it offers, 3-D printing must be explored in terms of value. What are the consequences of printing a body part? Does it enhance productivity, improve a patient’s quality of life and lower cost? Can a customized joint be modeled after a patient’s own knee and printed? In terms of construction, does it offer efficiency, cost savings and the maximum value to patients? As the rest of the world rapidly adapts this new technology, healthcare is following suit. But not without an extensive look at overall patient well-being.

Learn more about 3-D printing in the medical field at Healthcare Design Magazine.