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Wednesday, 13 March 2013 16:05

Man has 75% of his skull replaced with 3D copy

A skull implant like the one used in the operation A skull implant like the one used in the operation Oxford Performance Materials

A man has had three quarters of his skull replaced by a 3D printed copy in a procedure that is being lauded as the first of its kind.

The man from the US, who has chosen to remain unnamed, had his head scanned first prior to the procedure prior to the plastic prosthetic being grafted to his existing skull.

The company behind the technology is the Connecticut, US based Oxford Performance Materials, and the result was achieved using what's called an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes.

In 3D printing, a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape is made from a digital model, and then printed using a 3D printer, which are quickly becoming cheaper and more ubiquitous.

Oxford Performance Materials (OPM) said the surgery performed last week was the first time a patient received an implant made specifically for them using 3D printing and a high-performance polymer, and that more could potentially follow.

OPM said it in a statement it has the ability to construct an implant within two weeks of getting a patient's scans, and that as many as 500 people per month in the US alone could receive similar treatments.

With 3D printers, users can produce objects with a molding machine based on computer digital models, meaning the uses will range from household items to potentially life-saving operations, as we've seen here.

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