3D printing is once again changing surgery. This time it’s being used to manufacture tiny implants with a memory function, or complex shapes, like the ear’s cochlea.
Up until now, inserting an ear implant into the cochlea has been a risky surgery. The surgery requires the utmost care and precision. The tiniest error can have devastating results and can leave the patient with even less hearing ability than they had before. With Laser Additive Manufacturing (LAM) technology, though, researchers have developed a way to reduce the risks for those who are in need of this surgery.
The scientists at the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH), an independent, non-profit research institute have found a way to use LAM technology to manufacture and create a cochlea implant that changes shape due to temperature changes during surgery. This will make the surgical process of inserting the implant easier and less risky.
The LAM technology is also being used for another application as well: to manufacture temporary implants that are designed to slowly decompose in the human body. These implants are being used to reconstruct defects of the facial skull, allowing the body to create new tissue and bone. The implants stabilize the tissue above and make room for new bone cells.
The 3D printed ear implant project will be introduced in Germany, where the scientists will present their findings at the Hannover Messe 2014 industry fair which takes place from April 7-11. If you are interested or find yourself in the area, feel free to stop in and learn all you can about the latest in the 3D printing technology and how its changing the way we look – and hear.