How 3D printers are making headlines
In this photo provided by the University of Michigan Health System, a device is shown similar to the one used to save the life of Kaiba Gionfriddo of Youngstown, Ohio. In a medical first, doctors at the University of Michigan Health System used plastic particles and a 3-D laser printer to create an airway splint to save the life of a baby boy who used to stop breathing nearly every day. It's the latest advance from the booming field of regenerative medicine, making body parts in the lab. (AP Photo/University of Michigan Health System)
Published Friday, May 24, 2013 8:00AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 24, 2013 1:18PM EDT
Three-dimensional printers were all over the news this week, from a plastic printable gun to a live-saving medical device. Here's a roundup of 3D printers and how they made headlines this week.
Michigan doctors save baby using 3D-printed splint
The University of Michigan announced Wednesday that Dr. Glenn Green and Scott Hollister, who holds a Ph.D, had successfully designed and printed a tracheal splint for Kaiba, a 20-month-old baby boy. Kaiba had a rare condition known as severe tracheobronchomalacia, which caused him to stop breathing on a regular basis and require resuscitation daily.
The splint was printed from a biopolymer material called polycaprolactone, and was modeled directly from a CT scan of Kaiba's trachea. The final product was sewn around the infant's "airway to expand the bronchus and give it a skeleton to aid proper growth."
"Over about three years, the splint will be reabsorbed by the body," said a news release from the university.
- Scroll down to watch a video from University of Michigan
NASA plans to print space food
NASA announced this week it is working with a Texas company to design, build and test a food printer that could work in space.
Essentially, Austin-based Systems and Materials Research Corp plans to create nutritionally rich food using powdered proteins, starches, fats and flavours with water or oil to create “digital” recipes that can be printed into pre-determined shapes.
Theoretically, a meal could be printed in the shape of chicken wings, or a roast beef dinner with all the trimmings. Astronauts could order up the meal they want, and the printer would create it on demand.
"The 3D printing system will provide hot and quick food in addition to personalized nutrition, flavor and taste," the company wrote in its proposal to NASA.
"The biggest advantage of 3D printed food technology will be zero waste, which is essential in long-distance space missions.”
3D printable gun removed from Web
Earlier this month, a university student named Cody Smith successfully designed, printed - and fired - a plastic gun he created on a 3D printer. He named it “The Liberator.”
Then Smith posted plans for the weapon online, allowing anyone to download the specs and create their own firearm, provided they had access to the $8,000 Stratasys Dimension SST 3D printer.
His work inspired another “maker” to come up with plans for printable shotgun shells, which were then fired from Smith's gun.
It was all too much for the U.S. State Department, which this week blocked Smith from distributing the plans.
“#DEFCAD has gone dark at the request of the Department of Defense Trade Controls,” stated a Tweet from Smith's company. “Take it up with the Secretary of State.”
Still, the move came after the plans had already been downloaded more than 100,000 times, according to reports.