When home all-in-one printers first arrived on the scene, we were dazzled by the ease at which we could print out photos of our family, or the latest funny email we received from our crazy aunt. It’s 2012 now, and we’re quickly reaching that level of simplicity with a similar printing technology, but with one major difference. Instead of spitting ink onto paper, we can now “print” items such as artificial legs, clothing, and even human bones. It’s all thanks to 3d printing, a technology that’s rapidly dropping in cost, and that’s advancing with such rapidity as to actually be useful.
In the case of an elderly Belgian woman with a serious infection, this artificial 3d printed jaw was a life-saver. Created using a 3d printer and thousands of layers of powdered titanium, this lower jaw is perfectly matched to the patient. The doctors simply created a model in a computer, and printed it out. Not only was this technique significantly faster than classical methods, but it was also safer. Unlike traditional replacements, the 3D printed jaw was treated with a bioceramic coating compatible with the patient’s own tissue. This lowers the risk of rejection significantly, and more important, “bioceramic” just sounds cool.
3D Printed Total Lower Jaw Replacement
What did you think of the video? It’s pretty impressive, isn’t it? The jaw does look a bit like something pulled from the scraps of a Terminator, but is that really such a bad thing? Given the severity of the woman’s ailments, I’m sure she’s thrilled to be part machine. If 3D printing technology is advanced enough to create a working human jaw, I’m excited about the prospects for the future. Imagine a world in which – at the very least – we can print common household items at will. The face of manufacturing would be forever altered.
If you’re looking for more information, the company that developed this technology is called LayerWise. You can read more about the procedure and their various technologies on their official website.