Science Has Achieved the 3D-Printed Jaw

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After an infection ravaged her jawbone, an 83-year-old woman in Belgium became the world's first human being to receive an artificial jaw made with 3D-printing technology. It's made of titanium, and it is awesome. A team of doctors from the Biomedical Research Institute at Hasselt University in Belgium performed the surgery last June, but for some reason, they've just now publicized the amazing accomplishment. (This is perhaps because they weren't sure how her body would react to a titanium 3D-printed jaw, because as we said, nobody's ever tried one on before.) The implant was made out of titanium powder -- heated and fused together by a laser, one layer at a time," explains the BBC. "Technicians say the operation's success paves the way for the use of more 3D-printed patient-specific parts." The company responsible for manufacturing the janky-looking thing is called LayerWise. After all, 3D-printing is basically just like inkjet printing except with many many layers of material ink that eventually add up to a three-dimensional object. How cool is that?

It's pretty cool, we've decided. We've been pretty amazed by 3D-printing for as long as we've known about the leaps in medical technology, since the implementation of the manufacturing process in hospitals and medical research labs. You can literally 3D-print anything, including blood vessels, organs and sweaters. It looks like science fiction, and this particular model, definitely looks like it was torn off of a robot from the Terminator movie franchise -- the Christian Bale era, not the Arnold Schwarzenegger era. But it's a fact. In the future, everything will be in 3D, including the movie The Terminator.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.