There was this man who snapped his poke
In little pieces
And then they drilled holes
And then they put ’em back in there
– The Pixies, “Broken Face”
From here – A 12-year old boy receives the first 3D-printed vertebrae implant.
…the bone implant is made from titanium powder (similar to many orthopedic implants), however this material is considered to be safer and longer-lasting than conventional replacements. Plus, since it’s designed to mimic the shape of the child’s original vertebra, neither cement nor screws are necessary to keep the implant in place, and the healing period should come along quicker, as well. Along with that, the implant includes a series of small holes that allow natural bone growth, turning the implant into a permanent, stable part of the boy’s spine, negating the need for adjustments at any point in the future.
The long term success of this is still up in the air, but it’s still amazing. I can already picture the day when this sort of thing becomes commonplace, so much so that people keep backup files for emergency printing on their phones.