Rapid Prototyping Helping to Hear



Rapid Prototyping- Profound Effects Seen in Medical Industry


3D printing or rapid prototyping has helped move the medical industry to a whole new high. Doctors, researchers and medical aids alike are proud of the work that has been done using rapid prototyping, which is now helping to change lives for the better. The future seems boundless on many fronts with the expanse of effort being exerted to use the process of rapid prototyping in order to create new things.



The Making of External Ear Implants

Just recently, in a hospital located in Edinburgh, Scotland, called the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, 3D scanning has been used to generate comprehensive external ear implants for kids who have microtia. Although it is not considered to be a life-threatening ailment, microtia is a condition where the external ear of the child is distorted. Such a state can often have psychological effects on youngsters. Children do not exactly fancy looking different, especially at ages where they are prone to be bullied and picked on for any slight differences.


In efforts to improve and advance the quality of life for his patients, Dr. Ken Stewart has recently started to utilize an Artec Spider 3D scanner in order to scan a patient’s completely and fully formed ear and use it as a prototype in order to create an external ear implant for the patient. Dr. Stewart felt that the children wanted fully formed ears in order to live their lives to their full potential. His patients gave him the motivation and drive needed to go ahead with such a huge initiative.


If we look to the past, we can note that the course for constructing an external ear part or prosthetic was inaccurate to say the least, and it often steered towards less than optimum results. Many a times, patients and their families included were left traumatized or heartbroken by the results they got from implants. They were unwilling to go ahead with such procedures again, losing hope in the whole process. New hope emerged with the use of rapid prototyping to create such ear implants.


Dr. Stewart stated that the first step in crafting the ear implant was to utilize an acetate sheet in order to create a 2D tracing of the standard ear. Using this tracing as a sample, surgeons would then interpret the 2D drawing into a hand-carved 3D implant, which one could say was simply little more than a calculation, nothing exact. The surgeons had to take into consideration the intricacy of the whole process, keeping in mind the room for failure.


But outside of the world of digital models, 3D scanning additionally makes it conceivable for doctors to produce rapid prototyping models that can substitute the 2D drawings that were once used in the past. With a 3D-printed replica of a patient’s ear, surgeons occupied in an operating room can skillfully produce closely duplicate ear implants.In contrast to this whole process with the advent of 3D scanning technology, doctors have interestingly discovered that comprehensive 3D models can be replicated straight from a patient’s body, allowing it to be possible to construct tremendously precise and accurate implants. The percentages attached to success go up by huge amounts with such factors in place.

The Future of Ear Implants

Even though surgeons and doctors are still taking forward a craftsman-type method in regards to building and constructing implants, physicians like Dr. Stewart envision a very optimistic future for implant construction and design. This vision is in acknowledgement to printing technology and 3D scanning in particular.


In teamwork with the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine and School of Chemistry in Edinburgh University’s, Dr. Stewart has already been considering ways in which he can integrate stem cell bio-printing along with implant production. In such a structure, a 3D print and scan would play the role of a template on which stem cells can be enticed into fashioning a new ear. This new ear could then be converted as the implant. The surgeon’s method to literally hand carve a ear would be needed no longer.


If stem cells, 3D scanning and bio printing could be joined into an individual production package, patients who have microtia, in addition to thousands of other patients and people alike, who suffer from scarring, burns or other similar conditions, may actually have the rare chance to obtain anatomically accurate implantations as well as genetically identical implants. This would be a huge leap in the medical field. Many doctors, patients and workers in the medical field would be benefitted tremendously.


Not only would the above mentioned step be considered a medical miracle, it would also stand as proof to the fact that printing technology and 3D scanning are in fact making a vast impact on our society and the world as a whole. What the future of implants holds when it comes to being incorporated with the world of rapid prototyping waits to be seen and experienced.











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