Additive manufacturing of medical instruments: A state-of-the-art review

Costanza Culmone*, Gerwin Smit, Paul Breedveld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

99 Citations (Scopus)
29 Downloads (Pure)


Goal: Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, has begun to play a significant role in the field of medical devices. This review aims to provide a comprehensive overview and classification of additively manufactured medical instruments for diagnostics and surgery by identifying medical and technical aspects. Methods: A scientific literature search on additively manufactured medical instruments was conducted using the Scopus database. Results: We categorized the relevant articles (71) by considering the novelty of each proposed instrument and its clinical application. Then, we analyzed the relevant articles by examining the reasons behind choosing additive manufacturing technology to produce instruments for diagnostics and surgery. Possible customization (27%) and Cost-effectiveness (23%) were the main reasons expressed. Technical specifications of the additive manufacturing technology and the material used were also analyzed, and a tendency of using material extrusion technology (35% of the applications) and polymeric materials (86% of the applications) was shown. Conclusions: Additive manufacturing is opening the door to a new approach in the production of medical devices, which allows the complexity of their designs to be pushed to the extreme. However, we found that technical limitations need to be tackled and important aspects such as sterilization or debris contamination are still not considered to be relevant factors during the design and fabrication process. Keeping in mind the challenges of such a new field, additive manufacturing technology can be considered as a great opportunity to provide easy access to healthcare in developing countries as well as an important step toward patient-specific medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-473
JournalAdditive Manufacturing
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project

Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • 3D printing
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Medical device
  • Medical instrument
  • Review


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