3D Printed Artificial Nose Is Totally Vegan

Prosthetics are complicated, highly personal things. They must often be crafted and customized precisely to suit the individual. Additive manufacturing is proving a useful tool in this arena, as demonstrated by a new 3D printed nose design developed at Swansea University. And a bonus? It’s vegan, too!

Often, cartilage from the ribcage is used when reconstructing a patient’s nose. However, this procedure is invasive and can lead to health complications. Instead, a nanocellulose hydrogel made from pulped softwood, combined with hyaluronic acid, may be a viable printable material for creating a scaffold for cartilage cells. The patients own cartilage cells can be used to populate the scaffold, essentially growing a new nose structure from scratch. The technique won’t just be limited to nose reconstructions, either. It could also help to recreate other cartilage-based structures, such as the ear.

As with all new medical technologies, the road ahead is long. Prime concerns involve whether the material is properly bio-compatible, particularly where the immune system is concerned. However, the basic idea is one that’s being pursued in earnest by researchers around the world, whether for cosmetic purposes or to grow entire organs. As always, if you’re secretly 3D printing functional gallbladders in your basement, don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

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Hackaday Links: June 5, 2022

The big news this week comes from the world of medicine, where a woman has received a 3D-printed ear transplant. The 20-year-old woman suffered from microtia, a rare congenital deformity that left her without a pinna, the external structure of the ear. Using scans of the normal ear, doctors were able to make a 3D model of what the missing pinna should look like. Raw material for the print was taken from the vestigial ear of the patient in the form of cartilage cells, or chondrocytes. The ear was printed using a bioprinter, which is a bit like an inkjet printer. The newly printed ear was placed into a protective structure and transplanted. The operation was done in March, and the results are pretty dramatic. With a little squinting, it does look a bit like there are some printing artifacts in the ear, but we’d imagine that’s more from the protective cage that was over the ear as it healed.

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