A printer that can save lives

First used in the 1980s for car manufacturing prototypes, 3D printing has grown to have a significant impact on medicine today, where it can provide solutions for complex or high-risk situations.

How do doctors use 3D printers? After taking a scan, such as a CT or an MRI, of a particular area, a specialised computer graphics programme uses these results to create the exact dimensions for of the same area. These are sent to a 3D printer, which outputs the replica, in a variety of biocompatible materials. When a delicate touch is needed From Michigan, USA, where researchers printed a splint to hold open a section of a baby’s airway[i], to Hangzhou, China, where a 21 year old man with a rare spinal tumour was fitted with a custom-designed prosthesis to reinforce damaged vertebrae[ii], Read more