One of the best uses of 3D printing has been in the creation of custom-built medical implants. Many people need body parts replaced because of accidents or disease. Such was the case of a man in Birmingham in England who had to have his sternum removed as the result of a rare infection. The 61 year-old patient named Edward Evans had a new sternum custom-printed of titanium and polymer implanted inside him. Evans is said to be recovering well without complications.
The 3D printed sternum was created as a result of research conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Reasearch Organization (CSIRO) in Australia in partnership with a medical implant firm called Anatomics, based in Melbourne. The 3D printing method not only allowed for a custom-built part that perfectly fit Evans’ missing sternum, but the combination of titanium and polymer matched the hard and soft tissue needed for the replacement.
The surgical method of implanting the artificial sternum was minimally invasive, which helped with Evans’ recovery. Until he got the replacement part, he was unable to perform even the most rudimentary daily tasks, as his internal organs were too exposed.
The feat points to a future in which people who have to have natural body parts, such as bones, removed will have them quickly replaced with custom-built, 3D printed versions that can easily be integrated into the body. 3D printing will decrease wait times, costs, and recovery times for people who have to undergo such procedures.