Piece by Piece: 3D Printing Implants

11. June 2015 10:26 by Steve Leigh in Technology News  //  Tags: , , ,   //   Comments (0)

We’ve mentioned before how the applications of 3D printing in the field of medical science have changed the way both doctors and patients think of surgery. Whether it’s creating missing limbs or growing new tissue from scratch, the technology continues to move closer and closer to levels of sophistication once only thought of as science fiction.

But even as strides are made with visibly noticeable attachments, such as limbs, it’s the parts that aren’t always obvious which can go unattended. Fortunately, there are pioneers in the field who are devoting their attention to those specific “overlooked” areas.

The Titanium Skull

Jessica Cussioli was fortunate. She was able to survive an automobile accident in her native Brazil, but needed extensive reconstructive surgery to rebuild her face. Even after that was completed, there was still a 12-centimeter piece of her skull that was missing, leaving her head disfigured. What’s worse, the type of prosthesis that would assist with her condition proved far too expensive.

Fortunately for Jessica, her parents were resourceful. After contacting doctors at UNICAMP, the doctors agreed that Jessica would be a perfect candidate for a custom-molded titanium implant, created using 3D printing.

Jessica-Cassioli-post-surgery.jpg
(via IFLScience)

After an eight-hour procedure, Jessica’s implant was declared a success. The material is light weight, yet durable. Jessica is expected to make a full recovery, at which point she plans to return to her studies.

Robo-Claw

Until recently, a common complaint about prostheses was that they were both physically cumbersome and cosmetically unattractive. What’s more, they were often only effective for the most rudimentary functions of the missing limb. For instance, a prosthetic arm and hand could hold simple items, but the simple act of turning a key would prove difficult.

Then came the HACKberry.

HACKberry.jpg
(via Gizmodo)

Created by the Japanese company exii, the 3D printed HACKberry is major step forward in prosthetic functionality. In addition to its sleek design, the prosthetic boasts enough articulation in the wrist and digits to grab small items, flip through book pages, and even tie shoes. In addition to that, the hardware is able to be updated and added upon as the technology improves.

Both of the above innovations serve as reminders that while nearly all prosthetics serve a necessary purpose – substituting that which was lost – there’s also a sense of familiarity to be considered. It isn’t simply a case of finding a missing piece, it’s also trying to get it to work as well its predecessor. It might not be the original, but engineers doing their best to make the next best thing.

Epson's Latest Printing Innovation

With all of the talk in our blog about 3D printing, it might seem like standard inkjet printers aren't evolving. But that's not true! Companies, including HP and Epson, are taking advantage of better technology to make your standard printer cheaper and faster while delivering crisper images. We're particularly excited about Epson's new WorkForce printers and wanted to explore why this latest development matters and what it could mean for you when you're looking to buy your next printer.

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What Can 3D Printing Really Do?

10. October 2013 16:43 by Calvin Yu in   //  Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,   //   Comments (0)

3D printing has been featured on virtually even major blog and news organization. Even consumer giant Amazon now offers a 3D printing landing page as they are attempting to bring 3D printers into consumer households. At 247inktoner, we've even featured how this technology impacts medical fields. But what other innovative things can 3D printing do? Why do these innovations matter? And what limitations, if any, are there to this technology? More...

Near Field Communication Printing

No doubt 2013 has been one of the more exciting years in recent memory for developments in printing technology. With the vast expansion in capabilities of 3D printing and mobile applications, it's now easier and more efficient to print than ever before. However, mobile app technologies have been shown to have many limitations. With a new type of technology, called Near Field Communication (NFC), printing from your mobile phone might get considerably easier. More...

3D Printing and Medical Applications

3D printing is the most talked about new development in printing technology at the moment, particularly with Amazon's recent opening of a dedicated 3D printing page on their website. While the discussion is focused on the consumer aspect of this technology, we wanted to focus on the more high tech applications, including how these technological developments show promise for the medical field. Though 3D printing is still relatively expensive, rapidly decreasing costs and the development of new types of materials used in printing prosthetics make this technology viable for many larger research-focused hospitals. With the future looking bright for medical applications of 3D printing, there is great hope that medical costs and recovery times can be reduced. More...

Quest For the Beginner's 3D Printer

3d printerIf you've been keeping up to date on the news, you've probably heard of 3D printing. Chances are also likely that you may be unsure exactly what the technology does! Though 3D printing is not a new technology, for the first time in its history, it has received attention for producing everything from artificial skulls to Star Wars figurines.

Companies have finally released prototypes of smaller, more cost efficient 3D printers designed for everyday customer use, with MakerBot displaying their model during this year's South by Southwest Festival, one of the country's largest film, music, and technology festivals.

How does 3D printing work?

So how exactly does 3D printing work? A 3D printer is essentially a more complex version of your standard desktop printer, often with some sort of encasing or protective covering that enables a 3D object to be produced. Though inks are used to cover objects, 3D printers work by extracting liquids, powders or metals with incredible precision to create 0.05-0.1 millimeter thick sheets of material that form the basis for whatever object you are creating. These objects are modeled from visual blueprints that are created using imaging software. This image file varies depending on the type of object you are producing, but whatever the file is, the printer is able to interpret the file to make sure the objects have both the correct shape and correct dimensions.

For those without a background in graphic or industrial design, or a lot of money and space, 3D printing is impractical. Not only does creating 3D image blueprints require extensive knowledge, but many machines are large and typically cost well over $1000. However, as mentioned above, companies are are increasingly looking to downsize their models and streamline the process to let even those without the fundamentals of graphic design have fun.

Scan and print technology from MakerBot

MakerBot, a Brooklyn-based global leader in 3D printing since 2009, is among the first of these companies to invest in the beginner market. Their technology, dubbed the Digitizer Desktop 3D scanner, will enable you to scan objects up to 8 inches tall and 8 inches wide using lasers and a webcam. Once the image is scanned, a computer program automatically reads the data, producing the 3D image that the printer can then produce the object with. As a Digital Trends article on the launch comments, "It’s fantastic for recreating a broken link on your bracelet or making a replica of your favorite cup." Though there are no details yet on price or a release date, MakerBot has a sign up sheet so that users can be notified when these details are finalized.

When will 3D printing reach the masses?

Though we are many years away from 3D printing being accessible in much the same way highly quality photo printing used to be out of reach for most households, companies are taking the lead to ensure more people have access to this technology. Please let us know your thoughts on 3D printing. Do you think it's a waste of time or a tool you could see yourself using one day?

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