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The medical devices industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by increased need for homecare, preventative treatments, early diagnosis, reducing patient recovery times and improving outcomes, as well as a growing importance of technologies such as machine learning, augmented reality, 5G and digitalisation. In the last three years alone, there have been over 450,000 patents filed and granted in the medical devices industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Medical Devices: Customized prostheses 3D Printing. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

150+ innovations will shape the medical devices industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the medical devices industry using innovation intensity models built on over 550,000 patents, there are 150+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, neurostimulation therapy, smart physiotherapy devices, and real-time IR thermographic imaging are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Precision radiotherapy, electric atomisers, and bio-active prosthesis coating are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are bioresorbable stent coating and cryogenic tissue treatment, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the medical devices industry

Customised prostheses 3D printing is a key innovation area in the medical devices industry

3D printed prostheses are identical artificial parts of the body designed and developed using 3D printers and customised to meet the convenience of the recipient on an individual basis. These prosthetics are used as a replacement to a body part that has been either amputated, lost or is missing since birth. This technology is replacing traditional prosthetic production methods due to an array of benefits including being cost-effective, less complex, more accurate, eco-friendly, significantly faster, and accounts for patient’s enhanced performance.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 20+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established medical devices companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of customised prostheses 3D printing.

Key players in customised prostheses 3D printing – a disruptive innovation in the medical devices industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to customised prostheses 3D printing

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
ConforMIS 219 Unlock Company Profile
Stryker 173 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson & Johnson 80 Unlock Company Profile
Materialise 48 Unlock Company Profile
Zimmer Biomet Holdings 42 Unlock Company Profile
Corning 35 Unlock Company Profile
Smith & Nephew 23 Unlock Company Profile
Microport Orthopedics Holdings 20 Unlock Company Profile
CommonSpirit Health 16 Unlock Company Profile
Longeviti Neuro Solutions 15 Unlock Company Profile
Intellectual Ventures Management 14 Unlock Company Profile
Saudi Arabian Oil 13 Unlock Company Profile
Karl Leibinger 12 Unlock Company Profile
InnerOptic Technology 11 Unlock Company Profile
OtisMed 11 Unlock Company Profile
Active Implants 9 Unlock Company Profile
Optimized Ortho 9 Unlock Company Profile
JMS 8 Unlock Company Profile
Boston Scientific 7 Unlock Company Profile
Planmeca 7 Unlock Company Profile
B. Braun Melsungen 7 Unlock Company Profile
Episurf Medical 7 Unlock Company Profile
Osiris Biomed 3D 6 Unlock Company Profile
Medtronic 5 Unlock Company Profile
Nucletron Operations 5 Unlock Company Profile
Mighty Oak Medical 5 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

ConforMIS is one of the leading patent filers in the field of customised prosthesis 3D printing. Some other key patent filers in the field include Stryker, Johnson & Johnson, Materialise, and Zimmer Biomet.

In terms of application diversity, Active Implants leads the pack, followed by Nucletron Operations and Karl Leibinger. By means of geographic reach, Optimized Ortho held the top position, followed by Karl Leibinger and Johnson & Johnson in the second and third spots, respectively.

3D printing technology is specifically beneficial for children because they are required to replace their prosthetics every few years as they grow. With its flexibility, cost and faster turnaround time, the overall prospects for customised prostheses 3D printing look encouraging and the time ahead will be fascinating with upcoming technological advancements in this field.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the medical devices industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Medical Devices.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.