The power of 3D printing to transform lives has been reported this week with the case of Stephen Power, a young man who suffered terrible facial injuries in a motorcycle crash in 2012. Doctors at the Centre for Applied Reconstructive Technologies in Surgery (Cartis) at the Morriston Hospital in Swansea, Wales, broke his cheekbone in three places and rebuilt the left side of his face using 3-D printed titanium plates. Reinforcing the cross-discipline nature of modern medical science, the surgical team worked with designers and engineers at Cardiff Metropolitan University to plan the facial reconstruction in minute detail and avoid the guesswork which otherwise would be needed. They developed a strategy to restore symmetry to Stephen Power’s face using CT scans and software similar to that used by engineers and architects for building design.
BBC News reports that Mr Power says he feels transformed. “It is totally life-changing,” he said, “I could see the difference straightaway the day I woke up from the surgery.”
The team hope that this success will encourage greater use of 3D printing techniques across the NHS, partricularly as costs fall and as the design tools improve.