Now You Can Get 3D Printed Rib
This story might sound like something you might have heard while watching a superhero movie, but the 3D printing technology has taken the human race one step closer to creating a cyborg, i.e. part-human, part-machine. Recently, a 54-year old man from Spain received the first world’s first 3D printed prosthetic ribs made from lightweight titanium, which is incredibly strong.
The man had lost a portion of his rib cage and sternum to cancer. While using titanium implants and prosthetics are commonly used, this is the first time that the 3D printing has been incorporated in the medical and prosthetic applications. Also, the replacing portions of the rib-cage can be highly tricky and complicated, as titanium prosthetic, which are made out of multiple components, can become loose and create complications in the future if the prosthetic design is off even about a couple of millimetres.
The patient’s rib cage was, and sternum was scanned, and 3D printed within a span of 24-hours using DMLS or Direct Metal Laser Sintering technology on an EOS M290 3D printing machine. This customised rib cage made out of EOS Titanium Ti64cost less than 100 Euro, using 3D printing technology which included material cost, labour and machine time cost.
The surgical team at the Salamanca University Hospital opted for using 3D printing to fabricate a custom design rib cage for the patient due to the complexity of the operation and the 3D printed custom design rib cage would perfectly fit with the existing surviving portion of the patient’s rib cage and would be a safer option in the long-term.
The surgical team used high-resolution 3D CT scans to determine which portions of the rib cage need to be replaced and approached a Melbourne-based Australian company and pioneer in the 3D printing technology to produce the prosthetic custom-design rib cage and sternum for the patient.
The patient was discharged and walked home only 12 days after the surgery, and the patient is recovering well. This patient is the closest thing to a DC’s Cyborg or the Marvel’s Wolverine. While this operation is a small step in the application of the 3D printing techniques in medicine and prosthetics, the scope of its application is endless.
India has long being a pioneer in innovation and is a popular destination for medical tourism due to its quality healthcare facilities at economic and affordable prices. This medical marvel opens the door for the development of 3D printing services in India as the application of the 3D printing and rapid prototyping are endless.
Imagine, a war-veteran can regain their ability to walk after losing a limp in a landmine explosion. People who have cerebral paralysis can undergo a possible spinal replacement using a 3D printed spinal cord and walk again. Maybe, the 3D printed prosthetics and bodysuits can even create superheroes giving humans super strength, super speed and other abilities which the human body cannot achieve on its own.
India can become the next destination for 3D printing services, with many 3D printing online solutions already undertaking projects applications in the prosthetics, medical, engineering, manufacturing, prototyping and many other industries.