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An 83 year old woman in Belgium had her jaw infected and needed it to be removed. A reconstructive surgery would have been too dangerous. So instead of that, doctors made use of a 3D printer.

We're hearing the wonders of 3D printers all over, and now its being applied for medical uses.

Researchers at Belgium's University of Hasselt say that this represents the first time an entire lower jaw has been replaced using a printed implant. The four hour operation was performed in June last year, and it took one day for the woman to begin talking and swallowing again. Amazing!

In comparison, traditional reconstructive surgery would have taken up to twenty hours and a patient had to remain in a hospital for at least two to four weeks. The site 3Ders explains how the jaw was made:

The 3D printer prints titanium powder layer by layer, while a computer controlled laser ensures that the correct particles are fused together. Using 3D printing technology, less materials are needed and the production time is much shorter than traditional manufacturing. The mandible was finally given a bioceramic coating compatible with the patient's tissue by BioCeramics in Leiden. The artificial jaw weighs 107 grams, it is only 30 grams heavier than a natural jaw, but the patient can easily get used to it.

Printing out custom implants is a promising breakthrough, and not only can it have a serious impact on hard industries, but also medicine in general.

Via 3Ders.