Hope versus hype: what can additive manufacturing realistically offer trauma and orthopedic surgery?

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Additive manufacturing (AM) is a broad term encompassing 3D printing and several other varieties of material processing, which involve computer-directed layer-by-layer synthesis of materials. As the popularity of AM increases, so to do expectations of the medical therapies this process may offer. Clinical requirements and limitations of current treatment strategies in bone grafting, spinal arthrodesis, osteochondral injury and treatment of periprosthetic joint infection are discussed. The various approaches to AM are described, and the current state of clinical translation of AM across these orthopedic clinical scenarios is assessed. Finally, we attempt to distinguish between what AM may offer orthopedic surgery from the hype of what has been promised by AM.

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