The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released finalized guidance regarding 3D printing in medical devices. The guidance document, which issued on December 5, 2017, is based on the FDA’s review of more than 100 devices currently on the market that are manufactured using 3D printers. Importantly, many of these devices can be tailored to fit a specific patient’s anatomy. For example, the FDA has reviewed 3D-printed knee replacements and implants for facial reconstruction.

The new guidance gives the FDA’s recommendations regarding the content of FDA submissions, device testing, and manufacturing considerations for 3D printed devices.

In a press release announcing the new guidance, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stated:

[This guidance] will help manufacturers bring their innovations to market more efficiently by providing a transparent process for future submissions and making sure our regulatory approach is properly tailored to the unique opportunities and challenges posed by this promising new technology.

The new guidance comes on the heels of recent FDA approvals for several 3D-printed devices, including Medicrea’s 3D-printed titanium interbody device for spinal surgery. The FDA also recently approved a 3D-printed drug tablet, the epilepsy drug Spritam, marketed by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals.

Commissioner Gottlieb further opined that “3D printing is certain to alter the daily practice of medicine where patients will be treated with medical products manufactured specifically for them.” He noted that 3D printing could one day be used to treat burn patients by printing their own skin cells onto their wounds or used to grow replacement organs.

Commissioner Gottlieb noted, however, that the FDA’s new guidance is intended only “to provide the FDA’s initial thoughts on an emerging technology” and that the FDA’s recommendations likely will change as 3D-printing technology develops.