In our most recent report, SmarTech estimates that the market for medical models will be worth $45 million by 2017 and nearly $286 million by 2023. The medical community continues to take notice of the value that 3D printed models can bring to the healthcare sector. Profitable opportunities reveal themselves to companies that can provide 3D printed solutions to fill long-standing gaps in demand.

An especially interesting – if slightly macabre – example of how value can be created in this area has been demonstrated recently at the University of Malaysia, where 3D printed skull models are being created. Vicknes Waran and his colleagues are using 3D printers to create realistic skull models for practicing the removal of brain tumors. Waran and his team layer 3D printed materials with differing densities to more accurately re-create the tissue layers of the human skull.

Realistic skull models are welcome tools for medical educators. Cadavers skulls are costly and have a limited supply.  Meanwhile, Waran estimates that each skull only costs around $600 to print. These skull models may ultimately serve as substitute goods for traditional cadaver skulls.

Waran’s skull models continue the trend of 3D printing being used to address more complex medical modeling applications. 2013 also saw rapid ascendency of medical cutting guides and complex cardiac modeling services from Materialise’s HeartPrint service. Even the most optimistic of analyses have been surprised by the rapid adoption of 3D printing technology for these purposes.

For information on how 3D printing will affect the medical and dental industries, see SmarTech’s report “3D Printing in Medical and Dental Markets: An Opportunity Analysis and Ten-Year Forecast”

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