An Online Wellness Magazine produced by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)

Brand New World

With 3D printers, technology is in the early stages of replicating tissues, organs, limbs and more

Brand New World

The options available with 3D printing seem as broad as the human mind can imagine. A British patient was successfully implanted with a 3D-printed titanium pelvis. Surgeons in Wales have used 3D printing to rebuild parts of an injured motorcyclist’s face. A Dutch patient was transplanted with a 3D-printed titanium lower jaw. Now, researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) are also experimenting with the ground-breaking technology. 

Picture a 3D printer as an industrial robot that can print a three-dimensional object using different materials. “Objects are printed from existing 3D models or electronic data,” explains W. Jim Zheng, Ph.D., associate professor and associate director of the Center for Computational Biomedicine at UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics (SBMI). Models can be created with computer-aided design software or by using 3D scanners. 3D scanning analyzes and collects digital data on the appearance of a real object including shape, color, texture, and so forth. Then, you can manipulate objects via software by resizing and cutting them. From this data, you can produce 3D models of the scanned object.

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