This is damned cool. An 83 year old woman had an infected mandible, and needed it to be removed. Hell of a way to finish out your life, with no jaw, so doctors used a 3D printer to build a titanium and organic ceramic jaw to replace her old one.
The 3D printer prints titanium powder layer by layer, while a computer controlled laser ensures that the correct particles are fused together. It took 33 layers to build 1mm of height, so there were many thousand layers necessary to build for this jawbone. 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.
3D printing is pretty much going to be the manufacturing method of the future, considering the lack of waste, the absurdly low cost, and the intricacy of the designs possible. Hobbyists can already do 3D printing at home, which raises the question in my mind: could this eventually do to the manufacturing industry what the internet did for content creation and redistribution?
And two corollary questions: how long til we get printable dildos? And how long til religious folks declare 3D printing as the end of civilization?