The Impact of Additive Manufacturing for Medical Care Delivery in Space: A Systematic Review

Sergio M. Navarro, Hashim Shaikh, Nory Klop‐Packel, Hetvi Jethwani, Jimmy Wu, Jeffrey P. Sutton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing) has emerged as a new technique providing various modalities for treatment with respect to space medicine, bolstered by the recent deployment of 3D printers on the International Space Station. There are currently only a few reviews that summarize the evidence of its impact. In order to construct a systematic literature review of the applications and effects of 3D printing in space medicine, the PubMed, NCT, Google Scholar databases are searched for relevant titles, according to the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses statement guidelines. 3353 titles are retrieved, of which nine met the inclusion criteria and are reported. Studies are separated into three categories, based on the environment of research being conducted in an on-earth lab, earth based simulation environment, and conducted in low-earth orbit. The leading applications of 3D printing in space medicine include support of clinicians in nonearth environments via surgical tool manufacturing and development of splints in substitute of alternative casting techniques. 3D printing techniques seem to be beneficial for other purposes, including the deployment of personalized medical care to patients in space. Such conclusions must be confirmed by further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAdvanced Materials Technologies
StatePublished - Oct 22 2021

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  • 3D printing
  • additive manufacturing
  • space medicine
  • systematic review


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