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3D-printed bone replacements coming soon to an orthopedic surgeon near you, courtesy of WSU (video)

Joseph Volpe , @jrvolpe
3D printers are slowly, but surely working their way into all sorts of useful, everyday applications -- like the creation of chocolates, flutes and even Mario Kart turtle shell racers. Now, Washington State University engineers are unveiling a unique implementation of the tech that could aid in the regrowth of damaged or diseased bones. Utilizing a ceramic compound, the group's optimized ProMetal 3D printer builds dissolvable scaffolds coated with a plastic binding agent that serve as a blueprint for tissue growth. The team's already logged four long years fine tuning the process, having already achieved positive results testing on rats and rabbits, but it appears there's still a ways to go -- about 10 -12 years, according to the project's co-author Susmita Bose -- before orthopedic and dental surgeons can begin offering "printed" bone replacements. With a synthetic windpipe already under medical science's belt and now this, it's looking like we're just a few short decades away from that long sought after full body replacement. Right, Mr. Lagerfeld? Click on past the break for a brief look at this osteo-friendly machinery.