University of Washington scientists develop 3D printing process to make realistic new ears

With medical innovations being developed at breakneck speeds now, it’s occasionally quite surprising to learn that some medical procedures demand so much manual figuring work. Case in point is ear operation on kids and grownups who were born with an underdeveloped ear, a condition which is almost impossible to repair flawlessly. Fortunately, a fresh study by two scientists in the University in Washington have show up with a clever alternative, in which 3D printing can be used to make perfect surgical ear models as reference guides during operation.

The problem in this area is inherent in the reconstruction procedure. Ears are nearly completely made out of cartilage, and a kid enters surgery, surgeons crop cartilage from their rib cages and promptly carve a fresh ear from it in one session. They just get as little as they need and do the best they can with the limited time and supplies accessible, because the supply is so precious. The result is an ear that doesn’t appear excellent, but surgeons commonly practice on other substances. A bar of soap, a carrot, an apple, even pig cartilage is utilized to practice carving. However, none of these materials are of the same size and consistency, or have the features that are necessary, to make this a realistic practice session.