With this application, the part was split up automatically into 2D layers, and those cross sections were sent to the 3D printer, where a laser beam melted successive thin layers of titanium powder, which fused together to form the part. This process was repeated with each cross-section melted to the previous layer, and it took 33 layers to build just 1mm of height. Once the part was 3D printed, the part was treated with a bioceramic coating to make it look and feel more like a human bone.
LayerWise believes this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how additive manufacturing (AM) can be applied to advanced medical implant design. "AM's freedom of shape allows the most complex freeform geometries to be produced as a single part prior to surgery," said Dr. Peter Mercelis, managing director of LayerWise, in a press release. "Patient-specific implants can potentially be applied on a much wider scale than transplantation of human bone structures and soft tissues. The use of such implants yield excellent form and function, speeds up surgery and patient recovery, and reduces the risk for medical complications."
That would be really great if the technology could advance to support that application, Greg. We all know any kind of innovation to help wounded vets lead a normal and functional life is well worth it.
@gsmith120: There does seem to be a lot of activity around 3D printing and dental applications. Check out EOS, a manufacturing of laser sintering platforms. I believe they do a lot of work in the dental segment. Perhaps they have partners using their platforms to create something that could help your daughter.
Nice article. My daughter is missing two teeth (never had baby or permanent) and we have been looking at some new technology can would/could allow her grow replacement teeth. That research has been to be somewhat slow maybe this will be a good option.
I agree, Beth, and I'm sure they will be welcomed by legitimate users. Unfortunately, the illegal organ trade is alive and well in today's supposedly regulated world, which makes me wonder about the illegal trade that could occur in 3D printed organs.
In an unregulated world, you're right, Ann. It would be pretty scary. I guess my brain doesn't work that way. I was just thinking that for qualified/certified and totally above board medical institutions, it would be a welcome alternative to organ transplants or the worse alternative--patient loss.
Beth, I hope you are right. maybe I read too much science fiction, but the idea of being able to not only fabricate, but 3D print replacement organs makes me pretty uneasy. OTOH, maybe it would help stop the illegal live/fresh organ trade.
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