3D printing could benefit med device making

3D printing--a process that was originally used by manufacturers to build prototypes--could have a big impact on the medical device world, especially when it comes to making artificial limbs. The printers stack layers of materials on top of each other to create completely customizable objects of all varieties. The New York Times notes that a typical 3D printer can cost from $10,000 to $100,000. But despite the high cost of the technology, manufacturers could realized a big savings on using 3D printing over traditional methods of limb creation.

San Francisco-based Bespoke Innovations is planning to sell custom body parts. The company will first offer designer coverings for existing prosthetics, but co-founder Scott Summit says his firm plans to experiment with printing whole limbs that will cost a fraction of the price of traditionally-made artificial limbs. "I wanted to create a leg that had a level of humanity," Summit tells the Times. "It's unfortunate that people have had a product that's such a major part of their lives that was so underdesigned." Summit's partner in the venture is an orthopedic surgeon.

- read the New York Times article for more