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Artificial eyes, plastic skulls: 3-D printing the human body 人造眼睛,塑料头盖骨:3D立体打印人体

By Meera Senthilingam, for CNN

Scientists are 3-D printing body parts ranging from plastic skulls to artificial eyes.Fripp Design and Research and Manchester Metropolitan University say they are able to 3-D print up to 150 prosthetic eyes an hour. 科学家正在利用立体打印技术实现从塑料头盖骨到人造眼珠儿的制造。费里普设计研究中心与曼彻斯特大学发布消息说他们能用3D立体打印技术一个小时打印出高达150只假眼。

The 21st century has seen the growth of 3-D printing, with well-known applications in architecture,manufacturing, engineering, and now increasingly in medicine. 21世纪被认为是3D立体打印技术的发展时期, 公所周知在农业,制造业,工程领域的应用,现在不断增长在医学领域的应用也随之而来了。

The birth of 3-D scanning technologies combined with organic inks and thermoplastics has enabled the “bioprinting” of a range of human body parts to accommodate a wide range of medical conditions. Let’s start form the top.



Doctors at University Medical Center Utrecht, in Holland, have reported successfully performing the first surgery to completely replace a patient’s skull with a tailor-made plastic version that was 3-D printed.


The patient had a chronic bone disorder that caused her skull to be 5cm thick. The hospital said the condition had caused her to lose her vision and ultimately would have killed her, but that three months after the operation the patient regained her vision and was able to return to work.


Doctors at University Medical Center Utrecht implant a printed plastic skull



Batch-printing of up to 150 prosthetic eyes an hour has become a reality according to UK-based company Fripp Design and Research. The mass-production technique promises to speed up the manufacture of eye prostheses and drive down the cost.Printing each eye with slight variation in color is intended to produce better aesthetic results.


The aim is to ensure more affordable eyes for the developing world with countries such as India reportedly showing interest in the products. The company, in collaboration with the UK’s Manchester Metropolitan University, hopes to implement the use of its printed eyes within the next year.


Nosesand Ears 鼻子和耳朵

Fripp Design has also collaborated with the University of Sheffield, in the United Kingdom, to produce facial prostheses such as ears and noses. 3-D facial scans of patients are used to print out prosthetics using pigments, starch powder and silicone for replica facial parts closely matching the patient’s original nose or ear. The real benefit here is that once parts begin to wear, they can bere-ordered at a fraction of the cost as the technology and design will already be in place. The simpler process of scanning a patient’s face, rather than more invasive face molds needed for traditional prostheses, also makes the process a lot more patient-friendly.

在英国的费里普设计研究中心还和谢菲尔德市立大学合作自造出面部假体比如耳朵和鼻子。采用3D 技术扫描病人的面部用来打印出修复所需要的用颜料,淀粉以及硅胶混很成的模仿面部的部分以同病人原来鼻子或耳朵相配。切实的好处是一旦部件老化了,病人们 只需花部分钱就可以再订购,因为,技术和设计都应该已经在那里了。不像传统的非要对面部做模子,最简单了就是对面部进行3D扫描,這对于病人来说更加人性 化。

A team at Cornell University, in the United States, is doing things differently. It’s printing 3-D molds of a patient’s ear using ink gels containing living cells. The printed products are injected with bovine cartilage cells and rat collagen and incubated until they are ready three months later. Human transplants could be possible within three years, say researchers.


SyntheticSkin 人造皮肤

James Yoo at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in the United States is developing a printer that will print skin straight onto the wounds of burn victims. The “ink” they’re using consists of enzymes and collagen which once printed are layered with tissue cells and skin cells which combine to form the skin graft. The team plans on developing portable machines to print skin directly onto wounds in remote and war-torn settings.

在 美国维克森林医学院一位叫詹姆斯。卢研究员在致力于开发一种能直接将皮肤打印到烫伤患者伤口上的打印机。所使用的所谓打印墨是由多种酶和胶原组成的,一旦 这种混合物组织细胞和皮肤细胞打印上去,就会形成类似移植皮肤的物质。团队计划开发可携带的打印机可以将这种所谓皮肤直接打印到偏远地区和战争受伤人员的 伤口上。

The ideal synthetic skin graft needs to match the coloration of the patient as accurately as possible in order for the graft to look natural. Dr. Sophie Wuerger and her team at the University of Liverpool in the UK are working on using 3-D cameras, image processing and skin modeling to ensure the tone and texture of printed skin match up to the real thing.


Researching skin transplants on a fakehand, at Wake Forest School of Medicine.图为维克森林医学院研究人员正在将假皮肤移植到一只假手上。


Thermoplastics have led the way in the growth of printable hands, arms and even individual fingers. Richard Van As is one of those producing affordable hand and finger prostheses with his company Robohand, based in South Africa. The team is creating functional fingers for use on amputated hands by combining the printing of the thermoplastic polylactide with aluminum and stainless steel digits to create a functioning mechanical finger.


Robohand recently collaborated with U.S. entrepreneur Mike Ebeling on a project providing affordable printed arms to war amputees in Sudan. The collaboration is known as “Project Daniel,” named after 14 year-old Daniel Omar who lost both his hands and part of his arms after a bomb was dropped near his family home in Sudan’s Nuba mountains. The team is enabling Robohands to reach the masses at costs as small as $100 for a basic hand.



One of the more established fields of 3-D printing is the bioprinting of human bone implants, and now replacement bones.


In2011, researchers at Washington State University announced they had printed a bone-like structure that acts as a scaffold for new bone cells to grow on,before it degrades. The structure was printed using calcium phosphate and has been successfully tested in animals. The hope is to print customized grafts for use in patients with bone fractures.