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Patient's skull replaced with 3D printed material

Posting in Design

How's this for high-tech; 3D printing used to replace a man's fractured skull?

We've seen 3D printing used for a variety of purposes; from the manufacture of guns to miniature doll-versions of yourself, and it has even gone so far as to be used in speeding up the creation of stem cells. When it comes down to physical applications in the medical industry, the ability to produce complicated equipment in a more lightweight, efficient way has resulted in the creation of exoskeletons suitable for use by those who have little strength, and many have speculated on how far 3D printing may go in the medical field.

Last year, 3D printing was used to replace part of a woman's jaw, so it seemed only a matter of time before more facial reconstruction was attempted.

As reported by CBS News, last week, such a feat was performed -- but this time, the aim of the procedure was to replace the majority of a patient's skull.

An implant called the OsteoFab Patient Specific Cranial Device, custom-made and printed through Oxford Performance Materials 3D printers, is made from biomedical polymer and is customized for different patients through the use of CAD programming. Only recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the implant's polymer composition is very similar to bone, and it is expected that the synthetic replacement will be able to handle the same strain and pressure that bone can.

"It is our firm belief that the combination of PEKK and Additive Manufacturing (our OsteoFab technology) is a highly transformative and disruptive technology platform that will substantially impact all sectors of the orthopedic industry," commented Scott DeFelice, President and CEO of Oxford Performance Materials.

Although some believe that the 3D printing bubble has burst, its potential in the medical industry doesn't seem to have yet reached its peak.

Image credit: CBS News

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— By on March 12, 2013, 1:56 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure