Scientific Online Resource System

Scripta Scientifica Vox Studentium

3D Printing in medicine - principles, applications and challenges

Petar S Valchanov


Introduction: The 3D printing is fast developing, precise and reachable technology, which operates with a vast variety of materials and is used to build three dimensional models with many purposes, including in many fields of the medicine.

Materials and methods: The 3D printing allows us to convert a tomographic image study or engineering schematic diagram into a digital 3D model. Then we can build layer by layer a solid replica of this model with a robot, called CNC machine. This machine can use virtually any available material, including metals and metal alloys, clays, natural or synthetic polymers, glass, textile, food or even living cells.

Results: The 3D printing can be used in the medicine for the construction of highly accurate, anatomically correct models, both on microscopic and macroscopic level. Those models can be used as educational tools, as accurate training models or as custom, individualized medical tools and devices. Living cells can be included in the model, which results in a bioartificial tissue or organ model (organoid, bionic organ, bioimplant), which can be used for pathophysiological and pharmaceutical experiments or it can be implanted in a living host to replace a diseased or absent one.

Conclusions: The 3D printing is a powerful tool, which potentially can recreate any structure of the body as an inanimate educational or training model or as a living organ, which can replace the functions of the natural ones or even to augment them.  This technology is still in its early stages of development, but it has an enormous potential and will change the medicine forever.


3D printing; 3D modeling, CNC, bioartificial organs

Full Text


Atala A1, Bauer SB, Soker S, Yoo JJ, Retik AB.

Tissue-engineered autologous bladders for patients needing cystoplasty.

PMID: 16631879

Xu Y, Fan F, Kang N, Wang S, You J, Wang H, Zhang B.

Tissue engineering of human nasal alar cartilage precisely by using three-dimensional printing.

PMID: 25357157

Nuseir A, Hatamleh M, Watson J, Al-Wahadni AM, Alzoubi F, Murad M.

Improved Construction of Auricular Prosthesis by Digital Technologies.

PMID: 26221855

Min D, Lee W, Bae IH, Lee TR, Croce P, Yoo SS.

Bioprinting of biomimetic skin containing melanocytes.

PMID: 28453913

Pinnock CB, Meier EM, Joshi NN, Wu B, Lam MT.

Customizable engineered blood vessels using 3D printed inserts.

PMID: 26732049

Chang JW, Park SA, Park JK, Choi JW, Kim YS, Shin YS, Kim CH.

Tissue-engineered tracheal reconstruction using three-dimensionally printed artificial tracheal graft: preliminary report.

PMID: 24750044



Font Size