3D Printing Delicate Cochlear Implants

laser, sintering, cochlea, medicine, 3d printing, GermanyGermany’s Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has used 3D printing technology to create minute and complex components that can be used in delicate cochlear repair surgery.

In collaboration with the Hannover Medical School (HMS), LZH used a laser sintering additive manufacturing method to build micrometer long curly-cue devices that can replace the small bones embedded deep within your inner ear.

Although the scale and precision of LZH’s parts are impressive, the most remarkable aspect is their ability to expand and contract with memory in response to the ambient temperature changes that affect the inner ear.

Along with their cochlear implants, LZH has used their new laser sintering method to develop temporary, implantable scaffolds that can be used in the reconstruction of damaged skulls. According to LZH, their bioreabsorable magnesium implants will help stabilize tissue and create room for new bone to grow, thereby repairing a fractured or splintered skull.

While LZH’s technology is not commercially available, the company says it will debut its printing technique at the Hannover Messe 2014 industrial fair in early April. Once hospitals and prosthetic manufacturers get a good look at this new technology, we’ll get a better sense of whether it is a leap in sintering ability or a niche-product machine.

Image Courtesy of LZH