Doctors Implant 3D-Printed Vertebrae

3D Printers have helped medicine come a long way, with the ability to customise and create things in an easy and cost-effective way that previously would have been impossible to do. 3D-printed ribs, to livers, eyes and even ears. While these are all amazing feats, they have always been generic items, things which are custom but not unique in their design. At the end of 2015, this changed though when a patient was implanted with two 3D printed vertebrae.

Vertebrae are the discs that cling to your spine and are responsible for giving you a lot of your movement. The patient in question suffered from a form of cancer that had formed on the top two of his vertebrae, potentially threatening his spinal cord as it developed. The top two vertebrae are the ones responsible for your heads movement, meaning that grafting one from another piece of bone or material would be particularly difficult given their custom nature.

The solution was to work with an Australian medical device manufacturer, Anatomics, who using a 3D printer created the top two vertebrae using a 3D printer and some titanium. Ralph Mobbs, the neurosurgeon who performed the surgery stated that it was “a pure delight” to perform the surgery knowing that you had already done it on a model.

The surgery itself took 15 hours to perform and given the location was not without risk. Described as “essentially disattaching the patient’s head from his neck and taking the tumour out and reattaching his head back into his neck”. The surgery was a success though and Mobbs was able to not only remove the tumor but also implant the prosthetic into the patient.

Is there anything people can’t do when they work together with technology and each other?

Could Hypersonic Air Travel Become a Reality?

Air travel has become the norm within today’s fast past society, from the extremely affordable ticket prices coupled with the package holiday’s that have become part of many people’s yearly quest for adventure. But, what is next for air travel? Can it be developed to the point whereby consumers are able to fly to for example Australia from the UK in less than 22 hrs?

Well, a potentially sizeable development is on the horizon after Orbital in conjunction with NASA has developed and preliminarily tested what is known as a “3D printed hypersonic engine combustor at NASA’s Langley Research Centre in Virginia”. This could potentially facilitate air travel at amazing speeds of up to 3,425 mph (5,500km/h) or 4.5 times the speed of sound, which is fast.

Below is an image of a concept hypersonic plane which has been modelled within design software that is used for the purposes of aerodynamics, it certainly looks fascinating for a ground level design. The combustor was created through a manufacturing process known as “powder bed fusion” (PBF). Within this is a layer of “metal alloy powder that is printed before a laser fuses areas together based on the pattern which is fed into the machine by a software program

The combustor has as you would expect been put through a series of hypersonic flight conditions over the course of 20 days. Orbital have also stated that one of the most complex parts with which to develop is the Scramjet combustion system which needs to maintain stable combustion within an extremely volatile environment. This technique could also have the potential to be used within future versions of NASA’s X-43 experimental hypersonic aircraft which is pictured below alongside the Langley Research Centre in Virginia.

In case you’re wondering, the definition of a Scramjet is an air-breathing aircraft that carries only “hydrogen fuel, the aircraft pulls the oxygen needed and burns it from the atmosphere; this is instead of the traditional method of fuel and the required oxygen to provide acceleration

These developments could pave the way for a future whereby consumers could, in theory, be whizzing around the globe by hypersonic power.

3D Printed Milk Lids Reveal Bad Milk

Milk. Some love it, some dislike it. We are told from a young age that calcium makes our bones strong and we are often told to have more. The experience can be a little daunting though for those unfortunate souls who have poured themselves a glass or over their favourite cereals only to have a foul taste and smell emanate from the white liquid they poured out (if it’s still a liquid).

This may be preventable through with the creation of the “smart lid”, a device that is hidden in plain sight. In fact, in the lid you place atop your milk. The device was created by researchers at the University of California and the National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan and aims to help people detect the quality of their milk before they open the bottle.

The lid detects changes within the milk which demonstrate that it’s going off, such as the presence of bacteria and can transmit these details wirelessly to devices such as smartphones and tablets. The resonant chips built inside the 3D printed caps means the caps don’t require a giant battery built in and can allow for low price monitoring and tracking of milk and possibly other foods.

Imagine going to the store and checking with your phone if the milk you just placed in the basket is good or if that sell by date was a really bad estimate for when it would go off.

Thank you Entrepreneur for providing us with this information.

3-D Printed Gun Owner Sues Goverment

Say hello to the Liberator. The Liberator when first released was a big deal among the technological and law worlds, it being the first 3D printed gun. Made almost entirely made of plastic the liberator only uses a single metal firing pin, the one shot weapon can easily be printed using an every day 3D printer that are now readily available. The big issue that is coming up recently about it though is not the actual weapon, but the blueprints for it.

Cody Wilson, the inventor and designer behind the liberator, received a letter from the State department demanding that he remove the blueprints from the internet. The reason that was given was that posting the blueprints online would count as exporting firearms to foreign countries and he could face prosecution for violating regulations preventing the sales of firearms to international countries or clients.

Almost two years on Wilson has now filed a lawsuit against the State Department and several officials stating that their letter was, in fact, a breach of their first amendment rights to free speech. The issue arises due to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which is there to govern who can sell weapons to people or countries outside of the US, and when they are allowed to do so. The publishing of the blueprint is said to breach ITAR, in a similar fashion to if they had shipped a crate of machine guns to Mexico.

The lawsuit is not arguing that the blueprints were posted, but whether or not they can actually be counted as a weapon. They state that the blueprints are in fact “speech” and as such are protected under the first amendment so they cannot be censored, both in the real world or online.

This is an interesting argument, with the internet being considered a global resource, the fact that the second the blueprint was posted it was made available to every country in the world could be seen as an export, but the fact that they are discussing if the blueprint, essentially a collection of 1’s and 0’s in code, is actually speech or a product (in this case a weapon) could set the way for court cases in the future, with its resolution not only applying to 3D blueprints but also to games, software or even music in that it could be considered “speech” while in a digital form.

The first amendment is not the only one to be taking a place in this discussion, with the legal team also stating that the second and fifth amendment are also in breach by the State Departments letter and action. The second amendment states that it is a fundamental right to acquire and bear arms, while the fifth protects their right to “due process”, the actual process of legal representation and decisions based on the legality of actions, in this case, the concept that the blueprints and its publications were illegal.

While the first plastic weapon, the Liberator has spurred on a variation of 3-d printable weapons, including revolvers and other weapons, which could be deemed illegal at the resolution of this lawsuit.

To view the full complaint filed click here.

Thanks to 3Dprint.com for the image.

Thank you to Wired.Com for the information.