March 15, 2018
When engineering and medical know-how come together, the results are nothing short of amazing.
Technologies used every day by engineers—such as CAD, 3D printing, simulation and sensors—are potential cures to many of the medical industry’s most pressing problems. However, the specialized knowledge of engineering and the specialized knowledge of medicine aren’t always so easy to combine. Doctors may have ideas to improve the design of their tools or for new tools, but not have the design and manufacturing experience to turn those ideas into reality. Engineers are accustomed to building better products and machines, but the human body is a far different type of machine. Beyond the scarcity of expertise in both fields are safety and compliance concerns that require their own type of expertise.
Thankfully, medical device manufacturers have blazed a trail, often with the help of 3D printing. The medical and dental industries’ need for custom designs—from prosthetics to jigs to surgical models—helped expose more people to what is possible when modern design engineering is applied to medical uses. Now the FDA is embracing 3D printing as well as simulation to help bring medical and life sciences product development up to speed with other sectors.
Using technology to usher in huge advancements—such as the possibilities offered by personalized medicine or cybernetics—is still on the horizon. But formerly cutting-edge technologies are becoming increasingly commonplace. Ideas that a few years ago were seen as radical—such as exoskeletons to help people walk, implants that are quickly custom-tailored for each patient, or performing virtual surgery in advance of the real one using that specific patient’s data—are now a seen as matters of course.
You’ll see some great examples of the how engineering and medical professionals are coming together to solve real problems with technology in the articles collected for this special digital issue. We hope they inspire you to expand your horizons.