Palestinian-Canadian Doctor Tarek Loubani has developed a 3-D printed stethoscope that he plans to use to help those in the Gaza Strip during their time of need.     



These 3-D printed stethoscopes only cost $2.50 each to make, which is much more affordable than medical devices of its kind. He created this product in response to the Gaza Strip’s medical supply shortage that has plagued the region since 2007. Loubani saw the problem for himself in 2012 while he was helping in Gaza’s Shifa hospital, and saw that they only had two stethoscopes for doctors to share.


Loubani’s stethoscope is so inexpensive because it isn’t made with stainless steel, which is one of the more costly pieces of the device. Despite missing some of the components that make up the average stethoscope, many doctors have started using the 3-D product. Research director of emergency medicine at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario, Jonathan Dreyer, said that the stethoscope is “indeed a high quality instrument.” Dreyer has also stated that he uses it on his own patients in the emergency department.  


woman stands next to 3d printer


Medical devices are being created with 3-D printers at faster rates than ever before. Part of the reason is because of its cheap manufacturing costs, but it also has to do with the support it’s been given by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Many medical professionals believed that the FDA would heavily regulate 3-D printed medical devices, however, this hasn’t been the case. The FDA’s director of the Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories, Steven Pollack, has said that the administration doesn’t see a reason to harshly regulate 3-D printed medical devices.


“The overarching view is that it’s a manufacturing technology, not something that exotic from what we’ve seen before,” said Pollack.    


By early 2015, the FDA had approved 85 different 3-D printed medical supplies, and continues to approve more. Loubani plans on developing new 3-D printed medical devices to aid the supply shortage, and says he hopes to turn “a big problem to a big win for us in Gaza.”       


What 3-D printed medical devices will be made next? Is 3-D printing the future of the medical supply development? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.