3D Printing Technology Applications in Occupational Therapy

Special Article – Occupational Therapy

Phys Med Rehabil Int. 2016; 3(3): 1085.

3D Printing Technology Applications in Occupational Therapy

Ganesan B1,2, Al-Jumaily A1 and Luximon A2*

¹Faculty of Engineering and IT, University of Technology Sydney, Australia

²The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong

*Corresponding author: Luximon Ameersing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Hong Kong

Received: May 26, 2016; Accepted: June 06, 2016; Published: June 09, 2016


With the rapid development of three dimensional technologies in last three decades, it is widely spread worldwide and made dramatic impact into various fields such as medicine, dentistry, other health care and engineering area. The promising future of this 3D printing technology made new future in the medicine to design the various hard tissues, models of body parts, implants, orthosis and prosthesis with high accuracy. This paper focuses on the possibilities and benefits of 3D printing technology in the occupational therapy research or clinical practice and presents the different procedures for creating different types of three dimensional physical models.

Keywords: 3D printing; Occupational Therapy; Three dimensional Printing; Assistive devices


Three dimensional (3D) printing is a novel emerging technology widely used for various fields such as medical, engineering, educations, and other industrial areas. It is the process of making three dimensional physical models by using 3D software, computer, and printer. The 3D printing technology is also called as by various names such as solid imaging, additive manufacturing, medical rapid prototyping, layer based manufacturing, laser prototyping, and solid free form fabrication [1]. This technology has been wildly used forproducing various types of customized low cost medical devices, but it is still in the infancy status in theresearch and clinical practice area of occupational therapy. In this review, we tried to explore the sources of three dimensional printing, 3D scanning method and the possibilities of future application of 3D printing technology into occupational therapy.

Using 3D Printing Technology in Health Care

With the rapid evolution of reverse engineering, 3D scanning or imaging technology and Computer Aided design, it helps to make three dimensional physical models of human body parts based on additive manufacturing method [2-4]. Outcome of 3D printing models has been used in medicine for various applications such as education and training tool, using in surgeries (Orthopaedic surgeries, spinal surgeries, customized orthosis and prosthesis), tissue and organ fabrication (heart, liver and pancreas), producing different types of medical implants, making of anatomical models of human body parts, stomatology, dental implants, hearing aids, and pharmaceutical research [5-9]. In term of cost, 3D printing method for making medical devices or implants are considered as cost effective and can produce in less time. Therefore, it helps to increase the productivity of effective customized medical devices with low rate [5,10-13]. There are number of methods used to create 3D printing physical model (RP model) such as selective laser sentring (SLS), stereo lithography (SLA), laminated object manufacturing (LOM), fused deposition modelling (FDM), Solid Ground Curing (SGC), 3D three-dimensional printing (3DP), Ink Jet printing techniques, vacuum casting and milling (VCM), two-photon polymerization (TPP), direct laser metal sintering (DLMS) [6, 14]. In medicine, there are different types of materials are used to create rapid prototype model of medical devices and implants such as stainless steel, Cobalt Chromium alloys (Co Cr), titanium (Ti) alloys, Polycaprolactone scaffolds, polymer-ceramic composite scaffold with made up of polypropylene-tricalcium phosphate, Ceramic materials-Porous ceramics, Alumnia, Zirconia, Calcium phosphate-based bioceramic , other bone cement materials and other biocompatible materials [14- 15].

In the 3D scanning technological point of view, computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan) has been used to take acquire the 3D images of the body parts. Initially, the acquired three dimensional images from the CT and MRI will be analysed with 3D software such as Mimics, 3D Doctor and then it will be converted and saved as STL file. Finally, the STL file (format) is transferred into the RP machine to create the physical model. The following Figure 1 shows that 3D printing machine.