In China, scientists constructed 3D printed ears combined with in vitro tissue engineering for children with microtia who don’t have fully developed external ears. They used a 3D printed biodegradable scaffold and cartilage cells to create custom shaped ears for each patient. While other projects like FutureHear in Australia also 3D print ear molds, this method combines 3D printing with in vitro tissue engineering. Four of the five implants proved successful and researchers say further study is needed.
“The 3D printed model was used to cast a pair of molds from clay and silicone, which could then hold biomaterial scaffolds. To produce the biodegradable biomaterial scaffolds, a 9 square centimeter inner PCL mesh with three square millimeter grids and a thickness of 1.37 mm was 3D printed,” according to 3D Printing Industry.
The scientists were from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the National Tissue Engineering Research Center of China, the Chinese Academy of Medical Science, Wei Fang Medical College and Dalian University.