Medical device and MedTech insights, news, tips and more

Let the Regulation Begin! FDA Issues Guidance for 3D-Printed Medical Devices

May 16, 2016


According to market research firm Gartner, medical 3D printing is at the forefront of both the progress and mass adoption of 3D printing overall. Evidence of this is popping up worldwide, from the 3D-printed prosthetics being produced by various groups and patient-specific pre-surgical models to the first 3D-printed medication on the market.

What has been missing is an official set of guidelines from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). On May 10, 2016, the FDA distributed a draft of its guidance for companies manufacturing medical devices with 3D printing.


Though the FDA has approved more than 85 applications related to 3D-printed medical devices, the organization is still working to issue broader regulations that will streamline the application process. All applications approved so far have been limited to lower-risk devices, such as non-load-bearing implants.

This draft guidance, developed as the result of a 2014 dialogue surrounding the technology, is meant to help device manufacturers understand the FDA’s initial thoughts on 3D printing, while the organization is still working to finalize regulations.
So far, the FDA is regulating 3D-printed medical devices from two standpoints: design and manufacturing, as well as testing. In order to validate the many 3D printing processes used to make medical devices, the FDA instructs manufacturers to “clearly identify each step in the printing process… from the initial device design to the post-processing of the final device,” as well as understand how each of these steps might affect the ultimate product.

In terms of the designs for medical devices for both patient-specific and standard products, the FDA urges manufacturers to outline important parameters, such as the “desired feature sizes of [a] final finished device” and how clinical imaging (CT scans, MRIs, etc.) might affect the outcome of a design for patient-specific items. How software is used to create devices, including file conversions, use of support material, slicing and other variables are important inclusions in a company’s FDA approval application.

Naturally, in seeking FDA approval, the materials that make up medical devices must be described. This includes how an additive manufacturing process might affect the final product, as well as the qualities of any recycled material that might be used to 3D-print subsequent items. The post-processing required for 3D-printed objects must also be carefully described.

The FDA’s overall criteria for testing 3D-printed medical devices are similar to those associated with traditionally manufactured medical devices. Mechanical testing, such as material and performance qualities, should be performed; however, in 3D printing, factors like the orientation of an object as it is printed must be listed as a test variable.

Read More – Source: Let the Regulation Begin! FDA Issues Guidance for 3D-Printed Medical Devices >

More insights

March 7, 2024
FDA Clears Dexcom’s First Over-the-Counter Continuous Glucose Monitor
Learn More
March 1, 2024
FDA greenlights Boston Scientific’s Novel Drug-Coated Balloon for Coronary In-Stent Restenosis
Learn More
February 21, 2024
Sparrow BioAcoustics Launches Software That Turns a Smartphone into a Stethoscope 
Learn More

Begin your legacy now. We are your medtech and medical device talent advisory firm.