American Machinist

Jaw-dropping success? (Technology Trends).

A NEW METHOD OF MANUFACTURING bone implants could mean less-painful surgeries for patients. Researchers from the University of Illinois and Sandia National Laboratories are working on a process that would allow artificial porous implants, such as a lower jaw, to be made prior to surgery to fit perfectly into a damaged region. This would replace today's practice of harvesting bone from a patient's pelvis.

The process, called Robocasting, was originally conceived as a way to more-quickly fashion defense components out of ceramics. Situated on a truck, the Robocasting machine could make replacement parts on a battlefield, instead of carrying millions of parts onto a site.

Controlled by a computer program, the machine dispenses liquefied ceramic pastes, like toothpaste squeezed from a tube, to form shapes of varying complexity along a prearranged path. …

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