If you have paid any attention to Hollywood for the last 20 years, you are very familiar with the amazing miracles that can be worked through modern cosmetic surgery. Things are lifted, tucked, reshaped, smoothed, removed, or rearranged in ways that make the human body seem a bit like modeling clay. Setting aside some of the more horrible examples of surgery gone astray, it should be quickly apparent that the possibilities for people who have been disfigured to have their appearances positively altered through cosmetic surgery are only getting better ever day.
So, what stands between people and the plastic surgery solution? It comes down to money. Not only are these types of procedures expensive, but as they are ‘cosmetic’ and not medically necessary, when it comes to choices such as paying for housing or undergoing a surgical procedure, the former will always win. Such was the case for the child of a poor family in India who lost his left ear in a horrific accident. The opportunity to receive cosmetic surgery was simply not present due to the cost.
However, the panel of doctors who had tended him as he recovered from his accident weren’t content to throw their hands up in the air and give his ear up as a lost cause. Instead, they approached Novabeans, an engineering company that works to advance medical science through the use of 3D printing technology.
The contributions made to the medical field through 3D printing are widely known, and together, both the doctors and the engineers hoped that they could create a custom silicone ear for this child at a greatly reduced cost.
The first step in the creation of the prosthetic ear was to scan the undamaged right ear and create a 3D model of it as a mirrored copy. The final prototype of the mirrored ear was created in resin and, I have to admit, looks a bit alarming. However, that was simply a final test before the prosthetic piece itself was printed in medical grade silicone, colored to exactly match the child’s skin tone. The post processing included precision dosing and curing to allow the material and form to function in the most similar way possible to a working ear.
“Every year, hundreds of thousands of individuals are disfigured due to tragic accidents. Many of these cases involve either the nose or the ears. Novabeans’ engineers have done innovative development in medical science using 3D printing technology, working with local Otorhinolaryngologists (ENT Specialists) in India…[This] technology is used to help disabled people live a dignified life!”
We follow Novabeans and their innovative commitments continually. Cases like these are incredibly inspiring, and companies like Novabeans will hopefully begin to transform the plastic surgery industry–and offer many more options–for those who really need help but cannot afford it.
Is the future of facial prostheses 3D printing? Let us know your thoughts in the 3D Printed Ear forum thread on 3DPB.com.