Mar.29, 2014

One challenge with 3D printing is to print highly precise and small prints which are, on top of that, made of difficult-to-process materials.

The scientists at the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH), an independent, non-profit research institute have used 3D printing to manufacture tiny implants with a memory function or complex shapes, such as the cochlea of the human inner ear.

This 3D-printed micro-actor for cochlea implants can change its shape due to temperature changes. Photo: LZH

Inserting an implant into the tiny cochlea requires utmost care. During the procedure the surgeon runs the risk of destroying intact sensory cells which would even further decrease the hearing ability of the patient. The micrometer-small cochlea replicas that the surgeons use to practice the procedure are manufactured by the LZH's Photonic System Technology Group using Laser Additive Manufacturing (LAM) technology.

The Surface Technology Group at LZH goes one step further. In cooperation with the Hannover Medical School (MHH), they are developing implants that change their shape due to temperature changes during the surgery and shall thus make the insertion much easier.

Using LAM technology, scientists has also created temporary implants for reconstructing defects of the facial skull. These Magnesium scaffolds can be slowly and gradually decomposed by the human body. Directly after the surgery, the bioresorbable implants stabilize the tissue above. Afterwards, they make room for new bone cells.

LZH will demonstrate how they manufacture ear implants with a memory using 3D printing at Hannover Messe 2014 industry fair (from April 7 to 11).

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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