Don’t you just love it when random technology advances non-technocratic fields? I do, which is why I got excited when I heard that they used a 3D printer to create an 83-year-old Belgian woman’s jawbone replacement.
After the woman’s jaw was infected, and effectively ruined by osteomyelitis, technicians at the University of Hasselt in Belgium built her a new one with their highly-advanced 3D printer. The team loaded the 3D printer with finely-ground titanium powder, and formed a jawbone to her specifications; a jawbone as good as the woman’s original. 3D-printed bone-replacement parts like this one are created by feeding information from MRIs and X-Rays into high-caliber 3D printing machines.
“This is a world premiere, the first time a patient specific implant has replaced the entire lower jaw,” says Jules Poukens, a lead researcher at the University of Hasselt. “It’s a cautious, but firm step.”