An 83-year-old woman suffering from a lower jaw infection became the first person to receive a jaw implant manufactured with a 3D printer. Infections such as hers are normally remedied with reconstructive surgery, but doctor’s deemed the procedure too risky because of her age and health. Instead they turned to LayerWise, a company that specializes in 3D printing of metallic structures.
Titanium powder was melted with a high-precision laser into layers guided by a computer model of the jaw. The computer model was digitally divided into 2D layers and printed at 33 layers per millimeter.
The 3D printing made it possible to create an implant that just as intricate as the real thing. With articulated joints, cavities that foster muscle attachment, and grooves to guide nerve and vein regrowth, the new jaw was an intricate piece of hardware. It normally takes several days to make a custom implant, but the 3D printed implant took just a few hours to print.
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