The new artificial ear may be the solution reconstructive surgeons have long wished
for to help children born with a congenital ear deformity called microtia.
(Credit: iStockphoto)


Lawrence Bonassar, associate professor of biomedical engineering, and colleagues
helped create an artificial ear using 3D printing and injectable molds.
(Credit: Lindsay France/Cornell University)

Posted by Anne Ju-Cornell on Friday, February 22, 2013 8:18

Artificial ear from 3D printer looks very real

CORNELL (US) — Researchers have printed an artificial 3D ear in the lab that looks and acts like the real thing.

In a study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, biomedical engineers describe how 3D printing and injectable gels made of living cells can fashion ears that are practically identical to a human ear.

Over a three-month period, these flexible ears grew cartilage to replace the collagen that was used to mold them.

“This is such a win-win for both medicine and basic science, demonstrating what we can achieve when we work together,” says co-lead author Lawrence Bonassar, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Cornell University.

The ear may be the solution reconstructive surgeons have long wished for to help children born with a congenital ear deformity called microtia, says co-lead author Jason Spector, director of the Laboratory for Bioregenerative Medicine and Surgery and associate professor of plastic surgery at Weill Cornell.

“A bioengineered ear replacement like this would also help individuals who have lost part or all of their external ear in an accident or from cancer,” Spector says.

Replacement ears are usually constructed with materials that have a Styrofoam-like consistency, or sometimes, surgeons build ears from a patient’s harvested rib. This option is challenging and painful for children, and the ears rarely look completely natural or perform well.

To make the ears, Bonassar and colleagues started with a digitized 3D image of a human subject’s ear and converted the image into a digitized “solid” ear using a 3D printer to assemble a mold.

Read more: Futurity.org – Artificial ear from 3D printer looks very real.

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