At some point in the future, if we needed a new body part, I always figured science would be able to grow one. If you need any new kidney just sprinkle a few cells, top with miracle grow, and wait until you new kidney is ready. I never really thought about what we to do if we needed a new bone of some sort other than using stainless steel.
An 83-year-old woman needed a new lower jawbone last year for transplant and instead of a traditional implant, the medical team used a 3D printed jawbone manufactured by LayerWise. The transplant was carried out in the Netherlands last June and it has just now been announced. The implant was printed out of a titanium powder using a laser, layer-by-layer until the finished product was completed. The implant is a complicated part with articulated joints and cavities to provoke muscle attachment along with grooves to direct the regrowth of nerves and veins.
According to the team, it took 33 layers of titanium melted using the laser for 1 mm of height. That means that the finished jawbone had many thousands of laser passes. One of the interesting parts of the 3D printed jawbone is that it has a special double bridge that was attached and false teeth screwed in the that dental bridge. Also interesting is that the finished titanium jawbone weighs 107g, which is about one-third heavier than the replaced bone.