Carsten Engel – Biomedical engineer: 3D printing is not a dream. It is not a toy. It hasn’t been invented two weeks ago. In fact, it is already a production technology. 3D printing has a big impact on a lot of markets, especially for the medical sector. Can 3D printing really be the rebirth of current medical practice? Medical practice has changed a lot over the years. Let me show this to you.
This is a picture of how an operating theater looked like 100 years ago. Exactly 100 years ago. What you can see on this picture is that the surgeons are operating on the patient amongst the classroom with all the students. What you can notice as well is that nobody is wearing a mask or wearing gloves. So it’s not a very sterile environment such as we would know it today.
What we can notice as well is that there is very few, nearly no technology involved at all. This is how an operating theater actually looks like today. It’s a picture that I took from Google. It’s a German operating theater. And what we can see there is that today there is a lot of technology involved.
If you’ve been there already, for your work or as a patient yourself, you would have noticed that there’s a limited amount of staff: one, maximum two surgeons, an anesthesiologist, a couple of nurses, maximum two. Maybe a technician but that’s it. Maybe an intern, of course. There are nearly more screens than medical staff today. Over the years, new technology has been introduced to operating theaters and in medical practice.
Surgeons and doctors have always been very careful about introducing new technology. And with 3D printing, a lot is happening. We will see this together during my presentation. The future might look like this. What you can see on this picture, would be one surgeon with his patient, no other staff, and one 3D printer.
What you can see as well is there’s something happening with the 3D printer. It’s a bit like your home printer or your paper printer, when there are two papers being printed at once or missing ink, for example. You know this as well. With this organ or 3D bio-printer, there is an issue, a technical problem. A lot of organs are coming out of this printer while the surgeon wanted only one. This might be what the future will look like.