Increasingly accessible, affordable and technically viable, 3D printing is now being used for a number of high-end healthcare applications: orthopaedic implants, prosthetics and dentistry casting. These innovations are largely being driven by an industry that may not be deeply embedded within the complex environments for which they are designing. This research project, in contrast, begins with a co-design methodology - developing solutions in close collaboration with clinicians, patients and medical experts.
3D printing also poses a number of tangible disruptions to design practice, requiring a broadening of traditional skillsets, introducing highly customisable objects based on unique data, and democratising both the manufacturing (construction) and distribution (file-sharing) process.
A series of 3D printed design opportunities will be explored in response to real-world healthcare problems, investigating both the capabilities and limitations of 3D printing as a design tool in a hospital context. Using a practice-based model, these insights will feed into a written analysis, with the aim to propose how 3D printing can be used to advance healthcare professionals understanding and value of design, and conversely designers understanding of healthcare experience.