The Future of 3D Printed Medical Supplies is Finally Here

The Future of 3D Printed Medical Supplies is Finally Here

3d printed stethoscope
A test model fitted with Littman hardware. Image: Glia Project

It sounds like a bizarre concept that was dreamed up in Star Wars, or perhaps Terminator or even Demolition Man. 3D printing of medical supplies was once just a dream someone had, but now, it’s a very big reality, one that is making a positive impact on the medical community.

This is a game changer for doctors and medical teams in countries where medical equipment is too expensive or even too difficult to get. Thanks to a Canadian doctor named Dr. Tarek Loubani who works in Gaza, his revolutionary work with the Glia Project enabled him and other doctors there to create their own medical equipment inexpensively.

The reason medical supplies can be difficult to obtain is because of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade which forbids items that could be used for dual purposes. Thanks to Dr. Loubani’s work, now he and other medical doctors can create the supplies they need to care for their patients.

His devotion remained strong even though he faced some huge frustrations. Because 3D printers are also banned under the law due to the potential for dual use, Dr. Loubani and one of his colleagues, Mohammed Abu Matar, built one themselves. It’s amazing the lengths they went to in order to ensure the successful building of this 3D printer. The filaments used for 3D printers is far too expensive for importing so Abu Matar took matters into his own hands and fashioned filaments of his own.

When they got it up and running, they printed 3D printer parts and made more 3D printers. From there, Abu Matar built up his own 3D printing business, the first ever in Gaza. The 3D printed stethoscopes they made all work very well, so now the venture moves on to 3D printing other types of medical equipment.

But for Dr. Loubani and Abu Matar, the journey isn’t over. MRI and CT scanners are restricted from entering Gaza as well, so the ones they do have are in peril for being ruined by over-usage. Should a part break, these machines will be down for at least 6 months while they wait on a replacement, and for those that need medical attention, that might be too late.

So this dynamic duo works tirelessly to train others while working on 3D printing other essential medical supplies. It is their hope that they can change the medical industry in Gaza as well as other places in the world where medical equipment is outdated or needed in greater quantities. Until then, they’ll do their part by printing 3D medical supplies one at a time.

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