The doctors at at Peking University achieved a huge milestone when they implanted the first 3D vertebrae in a 12 year old boy who was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his spinal cord. The specialized spinal cord surgery took hours to perform during which the doctors had to replace a section of cancerous vertebra in his neck with the 3D printed piece.
With the help of 3D printing, you can create layers on top of layers in any specific shapes and sizes. These layers convert any digital model to a 3D object and its implications in the medical world have now come forth. 3D printing usually makes use of materials such as polymers and metals but in order to create this artificial vertebrae a titanium powder, which is a traditional orthopedic implant material, was used.
As opposed to this, the traditional orthopedic implant manufacturing usually makes use of geometric-type shapes which have less realistic shaping or conformity to the bones. And as a result, these implants need to be put in place using orthopedic cement or screws. The revenues pertaining to the worldwide orthopedic market had reached more than $36b in 2008 and the demand for implantable medical devices in the United States alone has been increasing tremendously; it is projected to increase 7.7 percent annually to $52 billion in 2015. Now the concept of 3D printing has paved the way for many possibilities in the implant sector which weren’t even considered before.