3D printing technology is quickly becoming mainstream in the medical world. Indeed, researchers recently managed to design and print a 3D splint that saved the life of an infant born with severe tracheobronchomalacia – a serious birth defect that causes the airway to collapse.
Melbourne scientists also took a big step towards the development of “grow your own” cartilage to treat cancers, osteoarthritis and traumatic injuries using 3D tech, while 3D printed orthopedic implants were successfully fitted in Peking’s University Third Hospital in Beijing.
Similarly, doctors at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan transplanted 3D printed bones into four patients with cervical spine (cervical) disc herniation. Following the transplants, symptoms such as gait disturbance and hand numbness improved.
The latest 3D medical news? Doctors at the First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University used the technology to repair a patient’s damaged skull.
“Dr. Wang Mao De, Chen Wei and their team began the process with a CT scan of the patient’s skull. Then the printer printed a matching piece of the skull’s missing part, layer by layer,” a post published on 3Ders explained.
“Unlike existing implants made from materials like titanium, the plastic implants are light and non-corroding. The precise manufacturing technique can not only mimic a real skull, but also add detailing on the surface and edges of the implant to help existing bone attach to the implant more easily.”
According to 3Ders, the implant is made from a type of thermoplastic known as polyetherketoneketone (PEKK), which is biocompatible, mechanically similar to bone, and radiolucent so as not to interfere with X-Ray equipment.
As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, the DIY Maker Movement has used Atmel-powered 3D printers like MakerBot and RepRap for some time now. However, 3D printing recently entered a new and exciting stage in a number of spaces including the medical sphere, architectural arena, science lab and even on the battlefield.
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