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You Can Put Spares In Your Pocket!

New Scientist reports on a medical breakthrough using 3D printing: exact replicas of finger bones have been produced. Christian Weinand of Berne Switzerland has been testing a new technique in which a 3D model of a finger bone is fed into a 3D printer, and an exact duplicate is printed. By using a suitable print medium (in this case "tricalcium phosphate and a type of polylactic acid - natural structural materials found in the human body") the resulting artificial bone can be inserted into the body and take over for the failed bone. Weinand says:

In theory, you could do any bone. Now I can put spares in my pocket if I want.

You're probably wondering exactly how you get a 3D model of a bone that requires replacement. If it's being replaced, presumably it's severely damaged, or even missing. The answer is straightforward - simply scan a model from its counterpart on the opposite hand! Obviously, this approach has some limitations, as there are singularly appearing bones, and what if both sides were damaged?

Via New Scientist

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