The 3D printers themselves get a lot of attention, but for 3D-printing to become ubiquitous in the medtech space, software will have to play a key role.A 3D printer without software to tell it where to place the material is a really nice, expensive coffee table, according to Scott Rader, a former Stratasys GM who has led GE Healthcare’s 3D-printing efforts for the past year.
Still, there is a need for even more software advances if 3D printing is to drive widespread healthcare innovation — from surgeons training on patient-specific 3D-printed models to customized, printed orthopedic implants and other medical devices.
“That’s why I came to GE Healthcare — to help connect the dots,” Rader recently told Medical Design & Outsourcing.
Whether it involves spitting out a 3D-printable file off of a medical image, designing a more complicated 3D structure faster or ensuring that a 3D printer is truly printing to spec, there have been great strides in recent years in the software that powers the use of additive manufacturing in medtech.
“It’s inseparable because it is digital manufacturing. You can’t separate the computer out of the digital manufacturing process,” said Dr. Jenny Chen, founder and CEO of 3DHeals, a community of healthcare 3D-printing innovators.