A New Phase In 3D Printing: Patient Gets 3D Printed Face


When a humanoid toy loses an arm or leg, it can be easily replaced with a spare. Humans are living toys and replacing broken organs is no longer as difficult as it was a few decades ago, thanks to the advent of 3D Printing. Broken teeth, burnt skin and damaged ribs are being repaired and replaced with their 3D Printed duplicates and the latest one to join this list is a 3D Printed Face!

Carlito Conceiçao, a 54-year old cancer survivor in Sao Paolo, Brazil had lost his right eye socket and a portion of his nose to cancer in 2008. The left side of his face remained largely unaffected. He received a conventional prosthesis which kept falling off. This left him with serious confidence issues. However in February 2016 Conceiçao received a brand new face, thanks to Dr. Rodrigo Salazar and his team ‘Plus ID’ who used a scanning app to recreate a virtual model of the patients face.

The team used Autodesk’s free 123D Catch smartphone photogrammetry app which allows a person to scan an object in 3D. Dr.Salazar’s group scanned and obtained an image of the left side of the patients face and mirrored it to obtain the model of the right side. With the virtual model, mould was manufactured and silicone was filled into the mould to obtain a facial prosthesis.

Fifteen images of the patients face were obtained using the app and the images were reconstructed to create the mould. The cast silicone prosthesis underwent surface finishing prior to usage. Clinical artists added texture to the model to make it as realistic as possible. Magnets were provided on the prosthetic device and the patients face was implanted with three titanium screws for the implant to adhere to. The magnetic connection ensured that the device would not fall off. The magnets may be detached for cleaning the device.

For the patient Conceiçao, the 3D scanning and 3D printing technology has given him confidence and a sense of normalcy. “My first prosthesis was fragile, poor quality and kept falling off because it was held on by glue; I felt totally disfigured and I looked terrible,” the patient admitted. “I was so impressed by the result of the new one, I cried when they fitted it,” he told 3ders

3D Printing has gained immense momentum in the last decade. The doctors spent approximately 20 hours to design, manufacture and make the device ready for use. 3D Scanning and printing is relatively inexpensive and functionally viable. With the burgeoning number of patients suffering from head and neck cancer, The ‘Plus ID’ Team aims to train professionals around the globe in techniques used for 3D scanning and printing to help patients.

Source: 3ders.org