3D Printed Ribcage
The advent and use of 3D printing has helped immensely in making life easier for professionals in numerous avenues of design and technology, but the most important breakthroughs that 3D printing is making is in the medical field. The most recent triumphant story of 3D printing comes from Australia, where a 3D printed ribcage has helped give a new lease on life to a Spanish patient suffering from chest wall sarcoma. The treatment involved removing and replacing the patients sternum and a portion of his ribcage with titanium implants.
The use of 3D printing the implants rather than traditional fabrication was contemplated by the team at Salamanca University Hospital as it would save time, and also meant that a great degree of customisation would be possible to deal with the anatomical complexity that the sternum and rib cage present.
Australian medical device company Anotomics was called in to create the custom implants, using scans from the patients body and an Arcam 3D printer that uses an electron beam melting technique to build up layers of Titanium. Once fully formed, the titanium pieces are cleaned and are ready to be surgically implanted in the patients body.
Thanks to the magic of 3D printing the patient has been discharged from the hospital and is now recovering well. This somewhat miraculous way of designing, especially when it comes to medical equiptment, is a testament to the limitless potential that 3D printing holds.