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83-Year-Old Woman Gets New 3D-Printed Titanium Jaw 121

arnodf writes "The University of Hasselt (in Belgium) announced today (Google translation of Dutch original) that Belgian and Dutch scientists have successfully replaced an 83-year-old woman's lower jaw with a 3D-printed model. According to the researchers, 'It is the first custom-made implant in the world to replace an entire lower jaw. ... The 3D printer prints titanium powder layer by layer, while a computer controlled laser ensures that the correct particles are fused together. Using 3D printing technology, less materials are needed and the production time is much shorter than traditional manufacturing. The artificial jaw is slightly heavier than a natural jaw, but the patient can easily get used to it."
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83-Year-Old Woman Gets New 3D-Printed Titanium Jaw

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 03, 2012 @06:22PM (#38921221)

    You wouldn't download a jaw...

  • Sweet! (Score:5, Funny)

    by tsotha ( 720379 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @06:24PM (#38921237)
    She can get a job as a heavy at Drax Industries.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @06:27PM (#38921269) Homepage Journal

    I'm going to be reading how someone using a 3D printer is creating their own family.

    oooooh and is the Pope going to have kittens!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    already saw that Bond movie.

  • by vyvepe ( 809573 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @06:29PM (#38921301)
    How do they attach muscle/tendons to titanium?
  • Not just in this case, but in general for medical implants. Sure it is heavier, but it is much stronger, just as corrosion resistant, and non-magnetic.

    • by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @06:34PM (#38921371)

      Titanium is stronger than most stainless steels and is 2/3 of the density. Also nickle is a component of stainless steel and can cause problems in the body. Titanium is inert in the body.

      • pure titanium is as strong as typical steels but has less weight. Steels can be made that are much stronger than titanium.

        • Re:almost true (Score:5, Informative)

          by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @06:49PM (#38921597)

          Pure Titanium is pretty weak with a Yield of around 20ksi. But the most common type is Grade 5 which when heat treated is good to about 150ksi yield. Most 300 series stainless especially 316 which is pretty much the most inert one is good to about 40ksi. You can get some insane Maraging steels that go to 350ksi. But working with those is a pain. The only times I've used it I had to wire EDM it.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            I really hate the whole metal vs metal debates and claims. "Aluminum" x% stronger then "steel." Because no engineer doing an sort of serious design would never ever just specify "Steel", "Aluminum", "Titanium" or even "stainless steel." And even if they did they would assume that the implementor would be pick the most common alloy for that field of use.

            Even worse is welding, brazing, and soldering. I have heard the following claims: "Soldering can be just as strong as brazing." "Brazing can be just as stron

            • Re:almost true (Score:5, Informative)

              by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @07:51PM (#38922331)

              I'm a mechanical engineer and I have to agree. Material selection is much more complicated than it seems. Let's take a typical aluminum parts I design.

              If it is a high strength part machined from a block I'd use AL 7075-T6 since it's very strong and machines well. The T6 is an artificial aging that makes it stronger.

              Sheet metal with tight bends 5052-O since other Aluminum will crack. The O means it is annealed so it's soft enough to bend cleanly.

              Welded parts I'd use 6061-T6 since it's strong and welds nicely. The only problem is when you weld aluminum you anneal the area around the weld and the strength can drop from 36ksi yield to about 8ksi yield. If you really need the strength you can artificially age the part after you weld it but then the part typically warps and you have to straighten it back.

              And once you have your part you have another problem with Aluminum. It's really soft. So it's easy to scratch and you can't get the surface clean because it keeps oxidizing and will rub off and make your hand black. So you can anodize it. There is a regular and a hard coat anodize if the part will be subject to wear.

              These are just a few of the material selections you need to make. And this is just aluminum.

            • Re:almost true (Score:5, Interesting)

              by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @08:57PM (#38922985)

              I got a (4 Interesting) so I'll continue.

              There are a couple of mechanical properties that you can generalize for a metal regardless of alloy type.

              Density is pretty consistent. Aluminum is about .09 lb/in^3, Titanium .16 lb/in^3, and Steels .28 lb/in^3

              But the most important one is Young's Modulus. This is basically how stiff a material is so higher is stiffer.
              Aluminum is 10 Mpsi
              Titanium is 16 Mpsi
              Steel is 29 Mpsi

              What is really freaky is that the Young's Modulus numbers are almost identical to the in proportion to the densities.

              • except that if you want to be strength equivalent, in the case of aluminum/steel you need to use a greater volume of material- so in this case aluminum part of equal strength (and possibly lower weight) is stiffer than the steel part.

                  Young's modulus alone doesn't really tell you much about actual application without considering the other properties of a material.

        • Nope. You need to differentiate between strength-per-volume and strength-per-weight. Per weight, titanium always wins, but pure titanium isn't that great, it's the alloys that really shine (no pun intended, especially since Ti isn't terribly shiny). 6Al4V is the normal "aerospace-grade" alloy, and is stronger per weight than any steel alloy. However, by volume I'm pretty sure it's the other way around; steel is stronger. So you can make a lighter part with the same strength as a high-strength-steel par

          • Let's move on then to the basics of solid mechanics.
            If something is in pure tension your strength is easy to calculate. You take the strength of your material with appropriate safety factors in psi and compare it to your load divided by the cross sectional area. Easy. So an aluminum and steel member of the same shape and with the same material strength will both be equally strong. But the Aluminum member will stretch 3 times as much and be 3 times lighter. If deflection is your criteria you will need the s

          • When we talk about the engineering strength of materials we always work in strength per unit area. This is why you will see it quoted as pressures. Psi or MPa. Basically if you take a bar with a constant cross section and pull on the ends the stress is defined as the force applied divided by the cross sectional area. You will see Yield Stress defined which is when the part is permanently stretched. And Ultimate Stess which is when it actually breaks.

            Since we work in areas and volumes when doing stress analy

      • True that. I've now got seven stents - all titanium, for the simple reason they're strong, light, and non-reactive.

        Back in '76 I over-filled my stainless Zippo; it leaked, I got one helluva leaking rash - instant "nickel allergy". To this day the only metal my body will tolerate for anything more than moderately brief contact is titanium.

        As for the printed jaw, I'd be interested to see some follow-up on this - the possibilities are intriguing.

    • Did you even read Wikipedia [] before you posted?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by soundscape ( 962537 )
      Why not? That funny "stainless steel" taste, of course.
    • by Dogbertius ( 1333565 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @06:37PM (#38921411)
      Although it is useful in medical instruments (eg: scalpels, handles, etc), and is also used in artificial heart values, the nickel components of certain types of medical/surgical stainless steel are quite reactive within the body.

      Some people also naturally have considerable sensitivity to nickel outside the body too. Some people get terrible hives, rashes, and even permanent burns when wearing cheap jewelry (ie: silver plated jewelry which is made of nickel/rhodium alloys). Given such a damaging reaction when exposed to damp skin, having this inside the body could be dangerous.

      Good question. Cheers! :)
    • Titanium seems to be used across the board. My guess would be lower host rejection.

    • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @06:38PM (#38921433) Homepage Journal

      Uh.. why not titanium? Does she really need her jaw to be stronger than a Mig jet fighter? Does she really want her jaw to be twice as heavy as a normal jaw so that she walks around like this :0 all the time?

      • by Genda ( 560240 ) <mariet@got . n et> on Friday February 03, 2012 @07:15PM (#38921931) Journal

        Titanium interacts better with bone and the body tends to tolerate it well (most artificial joints are made of titanium), is lighter that steel, and has superb sintering properties. In fact nanograin titanium oxide (a ceramic) when shaped and sintered is transparent, as light as aluminum, stronger than steel, and far more flexible than either. It is extremely heat resistant and you could in fact build a very impressive engine block out of it... and be able to tune you motor by adjust combustion until your ignition color went blue (indicating complete optimal combustion.)

        You could print a very high quality bone replacement and put synthetic bone inside and out to support marrow, a blood supply and attachment points on the outside for muscle and tendon. In fact you could build anchor points for carbon fiber to replace portions of tendon, and the tendon would naturally grow into the fiber over time. With the work being done on 3D printing, Its almost certain that we'll eventually just print up actual replacement organs and tissues from our own stem cells and with a little Extracellular Matrix to make it all grow together, no scars, no complications. We truly live in amazing times!

        • Ok you got me.... Tell me more. Pig bladder anyone? BTW what's the latest on regenerative therapy? I remember a while back some guy got his finger tip chopped off by a model plane prop and some pig bladder (Extracellular Matrix something) allowed his finger tip to grow back.
        • It is extremely heat resistant and you could in fact build a very impressive engine block out of it... and be able to tune you motor by adjust combustion until your ignition color went blue (indicating complete optimal combustion.)

          Well you'd have to peek between the oil and coolant passages to get a good look inside the would mostly look like the slushie machine from hell with some flashing lights inside.

          I still want one though! :D

        • by Tim C ( 15259 )
          I get creating replacement organs (whether "printed", grown in a lab or harvested from a pig or similar donor animal), but I'm confused about the "no scars" claim. Surely you still need to make an incision large enough to get the old organ out and the new one in - why would that not leave a scar?
    • by oic0 ( 1864384 )
      The material price is probably a fraction of the total item cost. Might as well go with something very strong, light, and inert. Who knows, maybe it sinters better too.
  • If she wore out her old jaw nagging her old man, how many nags will it take to wear out a titanium one!
    • or did they live any capp style and he wore out her jaw popping her one in the yap? this titanium jaw would be hell on the knuckles....

  • Experience (Score:5, Funny)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @06:33PM (#38921363)

    The artificial jaw is slightly heavier than a natural jaw, but the patient can easily get used to it.

    Sounds like the whole thing is a jaw-dropping experience!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if this could have been used for Roger Ebert, or did he have to have too much tissue removed to get rid of the tumor to make it pointless?

    • by swalve ( 1980968 )
      If I remember the story right, much of the damage he suffered in the cancer treatment was because he had some kind of unusual bleeding problem. That's why he lost his voice; they had to do a tracheotomy to keep him alive. So they probably don't want to do any non essential surgeries.
    • Roger Ebert lost his jaw because of uncontrollable bleeding from a blood vessel in his jaw that was weakened due to the chemo for the thyroid cancer. It was an unexpected byproduct of the original malady.

      He also says he won't undergo any more surgery, so it's unlikely he'll receive one of these jaws.

      The man is a national treasure. Any filmmaker who sees their film reviewed by Roger Ebert at this point in his life should consider themselves blessed, even if his review is saying the film sucks. It's a hercu
      • He can still type like crazy. He's on Twitter all the time and he can still write for his newspaper... so he isn't gone yet.

  • by milbournosphere ( 1273186 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @06:37PM (#38921405)
    Richard Keil called, he wants his teeth back.
    • Richard Keil called, he wants his teeth back.

      Don't say that too loudly - Barbara Broccoli might send a DMCA takedown order to the University of Hasselt.

  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @06:37PM (#38921417)

    She should have had new titanium dentures built into it as well. She could have starred in the next James Bond movie.

    • She's 83 - unless they're bringing Sean Connery back, she might be a tad old to play the supervillian.

      • You haven't heard? They're making a remake of Dr. Who with the original cast.

        They're calling it James Denture Bond: Dr. Who? Speak up!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How long before they can print Adamantium bone replacements?

    • First they have to discover adamantium.

      Trust me, if the stuff existed it would be all the rage in aerospace.

    • by Jeng ( 926980 )

      After someone buys the rights to the name Adamantium and applies it to an alloy that would be used in bone replacements.

      Adamantium is not a real substance, but the name could be applied to a substance as a marketing tool. That is the only way that I could ever see Adamantium bone replacements being made.

    • Well they have to invent Adamantium first.
    • Replacement of all your bones would eliminate the source of all your blood cells, so not a good idea. Adamantium not being real makes it rather difficult to do anyway.
      • Not necessarily; you could (in theory) create artificial bones that still have voids in them to contain bone marrow. Of course, implementing this in practice would be rather tricky, but if we can get to the point where we can print titanium bones in hours and also grow tissues with stem cells, it might be feasible to merge the two, growing new bone marrow inside an artificial femur or pelvis, for instance.

      • Plus without Wolverine's super-healing it would be useless. You'd just take organ damage instead of getting broken bones (let's assume joints won't be damaged), and then you'll die because you don't have super-healing.

    • I'd rather cover my bones in Unobtanium.
  • Should I be worried []?

  • I was under the impression that 3D printing currently only worked with a few materials, and usually was just used with plastics. But 3D printing with metal? Welcome to the future.

    • I was under the impression that 3D printing currently only worked with a few materials, and usually was just used with plastics. But 3D printing with metal? Welcome to the future.

      Powdered metal isn't cheap.

      • Metal powders are actually quite simple to make. (Even without resorting to mechanical production.

        The real issue is that only certain metals could be sintered this way, and that for any kind of good resolution, you would a very tight beam on the laser.

        For instance, aluminum would have to be sintered in a hermetically sealed build chamber filled with inert gasses.

        On top of that, a sintered piece won't have the same strength as a milled piece. It would have much more in common with a hammer forged casting, an

        • The power of Kroll! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @08:39PM (#38922837)
          You also need to remove oxygen when exposing titanium metal powder to heat. You could make a bomb out of that stuff even more effective than the powdered aluminium ones. I got some sub-micron titanium powder in 1990 and the bag of powder was in a can full of argon, but even then the idiot that shipped it by air would be spending time in prison if he's done that today. To answer the GP poster, it wasn't a lot more expensive than the same mass of titanium metal (which isn't cheap). Some materials are actually cheaper to produce in powder form than in ingot form. With titanium the metal is first available as a porous sponge so producing a powder isn't necessarily more expensive than producing solid material (

          On top of that, a sintered piece won't have the same strength as a milled piece

          That's true because it's not going to be 100% solid, but you can get to within 90% or more with laser sintering. However for this application being a little bit porous is an advantage because real bone can grow on it and into it. A bit over a decade ago researchers were treating milled titanium knee joints with hot caustic soda to make the surface porous and let bone grow into the portions that were in contact with bone.

    • by swalve ( 1980968 )
      The trick is that they lay down a layer of metal powder, and then hit it with a laser to melt it into place.
    • The company will print print stainless steel for you for relatively cheap. (They do plastic, stainless steel, aluminum, sterling silver, ceramic, and glass.) I have the world's most awesome set of dungeon-crawling dice (bronze-finish stainless) that my wife gave me from that place.

  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Friday February 03, 2012 @06:45PM (#38921555)

    replacements for jaws are decades old (though not 3D model), I used to work in IT for dental practice network and replacements for war veterans who had them destroyed is something I remember.

    • In TFA, the novelty they are alluding to is this is the first 3D printed replacement, not the first replacement.

      TFA mentions that compared to the current method, they can have a replacement in 4 hours, compared to several or more days.

      I can imagine that this can allow the surgeon to tweak the model for the individual patient better.

      • TFA mentions that compared to the current method, they can have a replacement in 4 hours

        That's almost fast enough that they could request a change to the part during surgery. OK, maybe off by a factor of 4 to 10.

      • by necro81 ( 917438 )

        TFA mentions that compared to the current method, they can have a replacement in 4 hours

        Having personally executed through the process of using CT scans to produce 1:1 computer models of bones that can then be printed with a rapid prototyper, I can assure you that you cannot have a replacement in just 4 hours. Oh, sure, it can be 4 hours from when you start the machine to when the part is finished printing, but you cannot go from presurgical CT scan to part model to printed part to cleaned, polished, (co

        • by rts008 ( 812749 )

          In lieu of my limited knowledge, I'll tentatively take your word for that.

          My intent was to clear up some perceived confusion exhibited by the poster of the comment I replied to, thus the title was 'Another victim of a bad summary...'.

          I do appreciate your reply, as it gives me a reason for research to satisfy my own curiosity.

          This stuff [TFA] is so far out of my league, that is almost like sorcery to me.
          I was trained/educated as a Veterinary Technician, State Board(TM) certified in Oklahoma, and worked at OS

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Yes I would download a car!

  • by rossdee ( 243626 )

    How much is the printer, and what do the cartridges cost?

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      No cartridges yet - it's muzzle loading.
  • Any way I could get this, for say, all my bones? Some retractable claws would be nice too ...

  • No comment on the wight at all?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      No, but perhaps some for ghasts, shades, spectres, vampires, and liches.

  • Building a jaw like this is pretty damn close to a replicator: take the raw material and make something new from it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 03, 2012 @10:06PM (#38923439)

    3D printing is going to revolutionize the world. We are in a Moore's law-esque curve with the cost and capabilities of printers. They have already moved into the price range of a home computer (maker bot) and will soon sport the capability to print in combinations of varying arrays of materials. We're very quickly going to move from machines printing with one or two materials, largely either metal or plastic, into combinations of dozens, and then hundreds of materials. As we go, we'll also see the printing of biological devices (ie printing cells to scaffolding). Combined with research into stem cells and regenerative medicine, I expect the next 20 years to see a simultaneous,. interconnected revolution in manufacturing and biotechnology.

    I just hope I live long enough to take advantage. Just as I get to the age where my organs start to fail, I want science to deliver customized printable organs.

    • that i myself dont really need much stuff 3d printed.
      i need to pay rent, pay for food, and pay for transportation, and heat/cooling.

      3d printing really doesnt help me do any of these things. i cannot 3d print food. i cannot 3d print land. i cannot 3d print fuel or energy.

      it will revolutionize a lot of things, but what will it do to the economy? even more unemployment, even less chance for anyone to move up the social ladder and rise out of subsitence poverty and wage slavery.

      • You don't "need" 3d stuff made? How about you need a screw or an adapter for your laptop or mobile device. You have the requisite materials, whatever they will be (now you have black, yellow, red and blue ink); you program the printer and moments later you have the part you need without having to go to the store.
  • I bet she can really take a punch now!
  • I, for one, welcome our Titanium-jawed Belgian grandmother overlords!

  • What the hell. A lower jaw made from titanium and no photo? Is this some sort of medical privacy thing? I want to see photos of a titanium lower jaw.
  • Pet peeve of mine. Many times when I click on an article I want to see a picture. Pics or it didn't happen. I expected to see what the printed jaw looks like, the machine that made it, or the woman who received it. Or hell, even the researchers that created it. But instead we get this.

    Can't we get articles posted closer to the original source instead of these crap repeater sites?
  • You think 3D printing in titanium is crazy -- check out the work of researchers Atala and Forgacs, who are using what's effectively a dot-matrix printer to spew "bio-ink" onto "bio-paper". The bio ink is a mixture of a patient's stem cells and the paper is a collagen lattice that degrades over time, allowing the ink to grow through it. By printing 2D images on a stack of paper, these 2D images combine to form a 3D shape. They're talking about printing organs -- like bioprinting a heart. Sweet.

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein