Feel like you have lost your head? No problem, simply print yourself another. An unnamed man from the US was able to do just that, courtesy of Oxford Performance Materials (OPM) in Connecticut. He had his cranium scanned by a 3D scanner before the prosthesis was formed to fit his features, and the resulting plate was surgically implanted earlier this week. The technology, called the OsteoFab Patient Specific Cranial Device, received FDA approval on February 18 of this year, and it’s now ready to take the field of medical 3D printing to a level that is literally head and shoulders above the competition.
If a 3D printer can replace a beak for an injured bald eagle, why not the majority of the skull for a human patient? This week, a man from the US was able to trade three-quarters of his skull’s natural bone for a man-made replacement. His head was scanned before a prosthetic was printed using a 3D printer. Surface details were etched into the polyetherketoneketone (PEKK) material to encourage the growth of tissue and new bone. PEKK is a high-performance biomedical polymer that can be sold in a raw or semi-finished form, and it began being used for Additive Manufacturing technologies back in 2006. It is mechanically very similar to bone, does not interfere with x-rays, and helps prompt new bone to form.
OPM believes that over 500 people could take advantage of such technology each month, aiding in the replacement of other damaged areas of the body. Within weeks of scanning, the company says that it can produce a prosthetic ready for implanting. Forget plaster casts or one-size-fits-all hip replacements, the next wave of medical advancements will be able to custom fit your new and improved body parts.