3D printing could save thousands of lives - here's how

3D printing could save thousands of lives - here's how

3D-printed objects with antibacterial properties could stop the spread of infections like superbugs (MRSA) in hospitals and other settings, potentially saving thousands upon thousands of lives. Researchers at the University of Sheffield have already produced such objects, incorporating a silver-based antibacterial compound into the 3D printing process. The resulting 3D printed parts are resistant to common bacteria and, furthermore, the addition of the antibacterial compound has no drawbacks in terms of brittleness of the printed object, for example. All of this is highlighted in a study published in Scientific Reports by researchers from the University of Sheffield's Department of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Clinical Dentistry. Such 3D-printed medical equipment could be a huge development in terms of hospital safety, as well as similar settings, such as nursing homes. According to the World Health Organization, healthcare-associated infections are responsible for some 99,000 deaths in the United States, and approximately 37,000 in Europe, and of course many others around the world. Obviously, any countermeasures that can help prevent even some of these infection-related deaths in the future would be most welcome. This discovery will not necessarily have an impact only in the world of health, as the researchers note that the antibacterial compound could be applied to all kinds of 3D printed products, such as children's toys or doorknobs. and cell phone cases - very regularly dealt items, in other words.

Fight against harmful bacteria

Dr Candice Majewski, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, noted: "Controlling the spread of harmful bacteria, infections and increasing antibiotic resistance is a global concern. The introduction of antibacterial protection into products and devices at the point of manufacture could to be an essential tool in this fight."Most of today's 3D printed products do not have additional functionality. The addition of antibacterial properties at the manufacturing stage will bring a dramatic change in our use of process capabilities." In tests, parts containing the antibacterial compound were found to be effective against the two main groups of bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The parts have also been tested with human cells and shown to have no toxic effects, which is obviously crucial. Although medical equipment is often supplied with an antibacterial coating of some variety and is subject to strict procedures In hospitals, this has its limits, in terms of human error in cleaning and possible damage to any coatings that could leave exploitable holes for bacteria.Theoretically, equipment printed with this new antibacterial compound would eliminate any problems.