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Digital Value

Posted on 25.06.2013

3-D printing sparks medtech innovation: the new ‘bionic’ ear

From the day I embarked on my journey in the world of medical technology as a Eucomed Communications Intern, I have been impressed by the wide spectrum of technological breakthroughs that surges forward with unprecedented speed. At the same time, I have come to realise that innovation plays a key role in the medtech industry as it helps to improve patients’ lives. And one technology that substantially contributes to driving innovation is three-dimensional printing – also termed ‘additional manufacturing’ – which has already been used for the production of medical devices, bones and, most lately, for a tracheal splint that saved a baby’s life. This printing technique takes on yet another dimension when it comes to producing human tissue and manufacturing human organs. However real this may seem, researchers at Princeton University in New Jersey, the United States, have made the impossible possible. The team has conceived a 3-D ‘bionic’ ear, interwoven with electronics and tissue – and capable of hearing radio frequencies by far surpassing the range of a natural human ear. If only Van Gogh and Beethoven were still alive, one would think.

By Krystel van Hoof Eucomed, Communications Trainee