How is 3D Printing in the medical field playing its role in the current coronavirus pandemic? How is Supercraft3D converting its processes to produce important supplies and equipment?
The whole supply chain has got disrupted because of COVID-19. Due to this, there is suddenly a need to quickly supply parts and that’s where many 3D Printing companies have stepped up and helped with the production of low volume parts. As for Supercraft3D, we are a manufacturing company only focused on medical applications. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of companies have reached out to us; for instance for masks where 3D Printing comes to use.
Your company focuses on 3D printed implants, which is known to be limited within the Asian market. Can you tell us a bit about the work your company is doing in this area? Are there other start-ups developing complementary technologies that you have to compete with?
We manufacture patient-specific implants. For instance, if someone is fighting cancer, the way the bone gets eaten up by cancer is not predictable. Once the cancer is cured, the bone needs to be restored, which is where we 3D print as per the patient’s requirement. And this we do for any part of the human anatomy. When it comes to competing with other start-ups, there isn’t actually someone who is focused only on the 3D Printing of medical, like us, who use this technology for medical applications.
How have you seen the medical tech industry change over the past few years?
A lot of people are now taking insurance, unlike before, so they are now able to afford a little better healthcare, surgeries,etc. Despite that, above 1 billion people find it very difficult to get affordable healthcare. So, that poses a challenge in many ways for medical device manufacturers also. As more and more people adopt new technology, cost will come down. When cost comes down, more people will adopt.
What are the limits of 3D Printing in the medical industry? Also, what are the areas that can be improved on?
Limitations and improvements go hand-in-hand. Limitations are the kinds of medical materials available for 3D Printing. More importantly, there’s the transfer of information; for example, if someone is in Delhi and they have an MRI data and I am based out of Bangalore, then one has to be able to cater to that person & be able to access that data. People need to be able to have a centralised data storage for all medical records. These are the areas that can be improved upon.
Can you tell us what’s ahead for Supercraft3D?
We are working on getting certain regulatory approvals for some implants that can be mass manufactured. We are also working on new materials – we are working on 3D printing tantalum, another material that is used in the medical industry significantly.