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Better Surgery Thanks to 3D Printing

Johnson & Johnson Debut Customized Surgical Tools

Picture of Hanna Watkin
by Hanna Watkin
Mar 29, 2017

Pharmacy giant Johnson & Johnson is using 3D printing to create innovations in medicine including customized surgical tools and pills with sensors.

Across the United States this week, hospital surgeons will have access to customized surgical tools thanks to Johnson & Johnson. Behind this idea is the company’s “3D Printing Center of Excellence”.

Sam Onukuri is the head of the Center of Excellence and a mechanical engineer with a specialty in metallurgy. He believes that by offering customized surgical equipment, the results for doctors and patients alike could be immense.

The reason for this is that surgeons currently need to have a huge range of tools before surgery. Or, traditionally, individual components are made and then brought together using screws and welding.

Instead, tools can be 3D printed whole making the process a lot easier, faster and less expensive. They would also be customized to fit the patient.

Onukuri’s colleagues call him “Mr. 3D Printing” and you can quickly see why. He explains:

“So my job is to use these technologies to deliver 3D printing solutions to different operating companies within Johnson & Johnson. The technology can have transformative applications across all businesses, like surgical tools for surgeons, medical implants for patients and even medicine tablets for consumers someday.”

Johnson & Johnson Inventions Are Already Making an Impact

The company’s 3D Printing Center of Excellence is certainly making big waves. Recently, they announced a partnership with DePuy Synthes and Ethicon.  Together, they are developing a prototype for bioprinted knee meniscus tissue. If they’re successful, the tissue could make surgery and recovery much easier for patients.

As well as this, they’ve planned a titanium alloy implant for cancer patients. This 3D printed implant would replace bone degradation for those who need it. Onukuri also points out: “The printer will print exactly what the patient needs to replace the degraded bone. You can get a scan from thousands of miles away in a matter of seconds.”

But, that’s not all. The 3D Printing Center of Excellence is getting busy with innovation. They’ve also been working on a way for doctors to track whether older patients have been keeping up with their medication. This works by creating tablets with 3D printed sensors which send a notification to either a doctor or carer to show the patient has taken the pill.

Onukuri is extremely positive about the future of 3D printing in all industries. He adds: 3D printing can deliver new solutions globally. To make products now, we have large factories that require a significant investment. We produce things, and we ship them out. With 3D printing, we can potentially move manufacturing to a very small footprint, doing the same thing closer to the customer.”

Source: Johnson & Johnson

License: The text of "Johnson & Johnson Debut Customized Surgical Tools" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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