CAMBRIDGE, UK—Market research firm IDTechEx projects that the global market for 3D-printed medical devices will climb to more than $6 billion over the next decade. IDTechEx notes that additive manufacturing for medical and pharmaceutical applications in some segments could see compound annual growth rates of up to 18 percent through 2029.
For example, the 3D printing of hearing aids helps provide customized fits to patients while sharply reducing manufacturing times. Invisible orthodontic aligners, the report added, not only offer aesthetic benefits compared to conventional braces, but allow users to remove them while eating, resulting in improved oral hygiene. Nearly 6 million patients have used invisible braces to date, the firm says. 
The report also details the work of e-NABLE, a charitable organization that 3D-prints prosthetic hands and arms from open-source designs—providing faster and more affordable prosthetics for children. Traditional prosthetics could need to be replaced every few months as children grow at a potential cost of tens of thousands of dollars each.
“While this application has limited contribution to the overall market value, there are significant unmet needs in the field of prosthetics that are going to be met by 3D printing technology,” IDTechEx analysts wrote in a release.