3D printed ear implants with memory
One of the 3D printing challenges is to create small and thorough prints from difficult-to-treat materials.
The researchers at the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH), an independent, nonprofit scientific organization, have used 3D printing to produce miniature implants with the function of memory and of complex shapes. The cochlea, spiral-shaped part of the inner ear, is one of them.
The procedure of inserting the implant into the miniature cochlea is to be extremely careful. There is a risk to damage or even destroy sensory cells during the procedure and as a result this could decrease the patients hearing. Surgeons use mini-small cochlea copies for their procedures that are produced by the LZH’s Photonic System Technology Group with the help of Laser Additive Manufacturing (LAM) technology.
The Surface Technology Group at LZH took one step in advance. Working together with the Hannover Medical School (MHH), they are inventing implants that can take various shapes as temperature changes while the surgery is carried out. This will significantly simplify the surgery.
With the LAM technology, researchers have also developed temporary implants used in facial skull reconstruction. They will later dissolve in the body. Shortly after the procedure the tissue above the implants will stabilize. And then there will be room for new bone cells. LZH will show how to produce 3D printed ear implants at Hannover Messe 2014 industry fair which will take place from April 7 to 11.