From medical devices such as stints to custom-made human implants used in reconstructive surgery, the use of rapid prototype models is rapidly growing in popularity among designers and engineers, due to new and innovative technology, and the reasons are evident.
Looking at anatomical parts as one example:
Rapid prototype models allows for an accurate fabrication of a patient’s implant, whether it’s for bone replacement or prosthesis. Because it’s customized to fit the patient, the benefits of utilizing rapid prototype models allow for the surgeon to conduct preoperative planning and practice in advance of the actual surgery. The surgery thereby becomes less invasive for the patient, reduces reconstruction time, and provides better esthetic results.
Due to this proactive approach facilitated by rapid prototyping, it has also been found to alleviate a patient’s pre-surgery psychological stress, as they have more confidence that the surgical complications will be minimized if not eliminated.
But the benefits of rapid prototyping don’t end there, as it also aids in eliminating risk of product failure. And for engineers and designers who are working to improve product performance, rapid prototyping facilitates faster manufacturing and produces higher quality end products.
After a rapid prototype model is developed, it can be evaluated as to its shape, size and general feel. The level of quality control that rapid prototype models provide allows the design team to answer questions such as: Is this providing the feel we want? Will the prosthesis attach easily? Is there anything obstructive about its design? Will it deliver maximum performance?
Given the design flexibility of rapid prototype models, these questions can be quickly answered and products can be improved more cost-effectively and rapidly.