Dr. Ken Stewart is creating 3D-printed ears for children who suffer from microtia, which is a congenital disease in which the external ear is incredibly small or misshapen.
The Scottish doctor first uses 3D scanning technology to design hyper-accurate ear implants for the children. Rather than subjecting children to an anesthetic or undergoing an MRI, Stewart uses an Artec Spider 3D scanner to map the geometry of the patient's other, healthy ear and then creates a mirror image to use as the model for the implant. Stewart then creates a 3D-printed model of the ear, which is sent to a surgeon to carve the ear out of rib cartilage.
Dr. Stewart believes that 3D-printed ears made of polymer instead of rib cartilage will soon be used by medical professionals while recognizing that 3D technology is continuing to be a growing area of research within this field.