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The key to OPM's 3D printed skull is a special biocompatible polymer called PEKK that that bone cells populate and supplement with normal bone.  (Source: OPM)
New prosthetic technology just scored FDA approval

Approximately 500 people in the U.S. -- included injured construction workers and wounded soldiers -- have suffered traumatic head injuries, but remain in danger of medical complications or dying due to damage to their skull.  That could soon change thanks to an exciting new implant technology from Oxford Performance Materials in Connecticut.

On Feb. 18 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave full approval for OPM's technology that prints replacement skulls using 3D printing techniques and polyetherketoneketone (PEKK).  The OPM technology only gained FDA approval after surviving extensive clinical trials.

Unlike most polymers, the human body does not attack PEKK (hence it is "biocompatible") and it is also mechanically similar to bone.  PEKK is also radiolucent, which means it won't interfere with X-rays.

The printing process does not rely on tooling, but instead uses digital CAD file and a 3D printer.  Perhaps the most intriguing part of the implant, though, is its built in micropatterning, which encourages bone cells to innervate the implant and deposit bone, which merges with the implant.  In other words, the patient's own body helps to finish the construction job the high-tech implant starts.
To undergo the process, OPM's technicians spend two weeks scanning the patient's skull.  In a test operation, one patient had 75 percent of his skull replaced with a PEKK prosthetic.  The unnamed patient appears to be in excellent health post surgery.

Sources: Oxford Performance Materials, News AU

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Cost: $6 million
By Spookster on 3/8/2013 1:56:27 PM , Rating: 5
Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to make the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better...stronger...faster.

RE: Cost: $6 million
By Nortel on 3/8/13, Rating: 0
RE: Cost: $6 million
By GulWestfale on 3/8/2013 8:39:33 PM , Rating: 4
don't worry, it's all plastic, probably made in china. the apple model will come in white only and fits smaller skulls, but the android ones will come in a variety of sizes. they'll be subsidized by your employer (3 years labor gets you a skull, some may throw in an arm, too).

i all seriousness: this is awesome. think about what this means to people who have suffered previously irreparable damage to bones, and who will have the option of new bones in the near future.

i'm just worried about the inevitable redneck who tries to print himself a set of wolverine claws at home or at staples, and then asks his redneck buddies to help him "install" them. actually, i'm not worried about that, i'm looking forward to seeing him on the news.

RE: Cost: $6 million
By 1reader on 3/9/2013 10:52:47 PM , Rating: 3
I'll hang on to my original till they come out with a crystal model.

RE: Cost: $6 million
By Manch on 3/11/2013 11:19:34 AM , Rating: 2
It would be awesome. I'd love to have my hand, my eye socket and my knee fixed. I doubt Tricare will pay for this though. They'll tell me it's cosmetic as the chic in the next loffice leaves with her new boobs...

RE: Cost: $6 million
By room200 on 3/8/2013 11:22:52 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Cost: $6 million
By Schadenfroh on 3/9/2013 2:27:41 PM , Rating: 2
I feel old now...

RE: Cost: $6 million
By lyeoh on 3/9/2013 12:19:45 PM , Rating: 2
We can rebuild him, we have the technology. But I don't want to spend a lot of money.

OK how about this then:

RE: Cost: $6 million
By Jeffk464 on 3/9/2013 1:29:59 AM , Rating: 2
Better than he was before. Better...stronger...faster.

ah yeah, this is un-reinforced plastic not Adamantium.

RE: Cost: $6 million
By Jeffk464 on 3/9/2013 1:32:38 AM , Rating: 2
Don't think the odds are to good if the person takes another serious blow to the head.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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