By Ryan Whitwam
Doctors at Peking University in China have accomplished something never before seen in medicine. They have successfully replaced a section of vertebra with a 3D printed implant. Doctors say this implant should incorporate itself better with the existing bone and shorten recovery time. Don’t get too excited about all the bones you’re going to print at home–this implant is made from powdered titanium, which you can’t really feed into your MakerBot.
Titanium powder is often used in orthopedic implants, but this is the first time a 3D printer has been used to make a solid 3D object to the exact specifications of a patient. The patient in this case is a 12 year-old boy who was suffering from a malignant tumor on his upper spine. A section of the bone had to be removed to stop the cancer’s spread, but doctors opted to try this new method rather than use a traditional implant, which relies on screws and cement to stay in place.