3D printed bio-absorbable splint saves baby with otherwise fatal impaired breathing

Elijah sez, "Recent news has been all about the commercial use of 3D printing - from food to weaponry. But recently, doctors at the University of Michigan used quick thinking and 3D printing technology to save the life of a 2-month-old child with a rare disease."

The scaffold was made of a bioresorbable material, polycaprolactone, so it would dissolve and be absorbed by the body after about three years. At this point, his airways should be fully developed and no longer need the stent.

The doctors used high-resolution X-ray scans of one of Kaiba's healthy windpipes to design a computer model for the life-saving brace.

Laser-equipped 3-D printers crafted the device in a few hours, and the university obtained emergency clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to implant it on February 9, 2012 at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor.

"It was amazing. As soon as the splint was put in, the lungs started going up and down for the first time and we knew he was going to be OK," said Green.

3-D Printing Saves Baby's Life [VIDEO] (Thanks, Elijah Wolfson!)


  1. A week after I broke my arm I had an appointment with medical technicians at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. They cut the plaster cast off my arm which sort of left my broken humerus dangling at my side. Not painful but sort of a worry. Then they sorted through a bunch of plastic splints, measured them for size and started cutting one to the correct shape with hand tools.

    I have to say the sight of those tools had me worried for a minute. But I suppose having a machine which can make the correct splint, given data the hospital already has about the shape of my arm would be a fine idea. Better than hacking away with a saw. More precise, and more repeatable.

  2. Aww, more like bio-ADORable!

    I’m confused about the medical terminology though. Isn’t this more of a “stent” than a “splint?”

    1. I’m not sure this necessarily holds up to scrutiny, but perhaps the distinction could be internal (stent) support versus external support (splint).

  3. Capa is bioreabsorbable? That’s an interesting thing that I probably shouldn’t be allowed to know… (insert mad scientist laughter here)

  4. But I’ve heard that 3-D printers can also be used to make guns. So shouldn’t we take a step back before we go playing god? Won’t this help the terrists in some way?

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