I have reported on this blog the progress being made in 3D printers and the variety of applications that can result from this, as well as the changes and impact on the distribution and retail structure.
There is Fab at Home where you can get updates of progress in this area, where people are sharing ideas and also apps in the 3D printing domain. Don’t think about it as just a hobbyist playground.
Some serious research is going on there, like the one carried out by Lee Croning and his group.
They are using 3D printers to explore the feasibility of printing drugs, pills you may need to take for your flu…
Health care is taking advantage ever more of communications infrastructures and sensors (including the cell phone) to provide medical support, diagnoses, even to remote locations, something that is useful everywhere but particularly in developing countries and rural areas where no doctor is available. The problem is, once you have got the diagnoses how do you get the prescription?
This is what Lee’s group wants to solve and the application of 3D printing, in an ingenious way, can be the answer.
They are experimenting with various ways of creating drugs starting from basic components. The problem is that most drugs work because they have a specific tri-dimensional structure so it is not just a matter of pouring the desired ingredients and mix them together. And this is where 3D printing can provide the solution. His group has invented what they call a chemputer, a computer that works with chemical substances to create new ones by regulating the way they are dosed and mixed together.
I really feel we are going to see a revolution in health care by the end of this decade and a reshuffling in the whole value chain.