3D printed chocolates
? Sure, sounds innocuous enough. But made-to-order 3D printed bones?
Now, that's just morbid. For the surgical team at Glasgow's Royal Hospital for Sick Children, however, the tech's come in handy as a budget-priced, pre-operative planning tool. Mark Frame, an orthopedic surgical trainee at RHSC, first came up with the idea to create the osteo-facsimiles after a costly university-made replica, commissioned for a procedure, failed to meet necessary proportion and size requirements. After undertaking a bit of self-assigned internet research, Frame sorted out a method to create renders of a patient's fractured forearm using CT scans processed via the open source OsiriX software
. These were then passed through a separate MeshLab application to tidy up any artifacting, and finally exported in 3D-compatible .stl format. The resulting files were sent to Shapeways for printing
, with the white plastic bone copies delivered just seven days later for £77. The hospital's been so pleased with the inexpensive outcome, that it's already begun prep work on a hip replacement surgery using a replicated pelvis -- and, no, they didn't specify if the patient was a fashion victim.