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3D Printing can save lives

Hello Machine Bros!
Today we will bring how an article of how 3D printing can save lives!

What we seek in this opportunity is to raise awareness among readers, although 3D printing can serve as a hobby, it is also capable of performing very important functions, and what is more important than saving lives?

It is for this reason that we bring you a collection of articles, stories, and news where the use of 3D printing has managed to save lives, and in turn, articles where people work to save lives in the future with the use of this technology.

Kaiba Gionfriddo Case

This is the case of a baby named Kaiba Gionfriddo who at the time was only six weeks old when he began to turn blue, in this way started the preoccupation of this family from Youngstown, Ohio, USA.

His parents took him to a local hospital where doctors concluded that food or liquid had entered his lungs and eventually, he got released from the hospital.

But history began to repeat itself and the martyrdom began.

April Gionfriddo, Kaiba’s mother once said that they even got to the point where “They had to give him CPR every day.”

Doctors determined that Kaiba had a rare disease that leads to the collapse of the airways called tracheomalacia.

Faced with this eventuality, the doctors applied an experimental technique never before used in humans, they created a splint made of biological material, printed in 3D that was able to unblock the respiratory tract.

Due to the enormous success of this technique at Kaiba, this same procedure was subsequently applied to two other children, Garrett Peterson, 16 months of age at the time of the procedure, and also to Ian Orbich, 5 months of age at the time.

It should be noted that the 3D printed splint was dissolved as expected.

By 2015 Kaiba was 3 years old, no more recent information has been published on how he has evolved.

Video of the case of Kaiba Gionfriddo

3D Printing During Coronavirus Covid-19

In regards to this pandemic, 3D printing has been involved in many ways, from the creation of face shields, to valves and mechanical fans that save lives.

Here at The Machine Bros we have an interesting article, quite extensive and complete, where we explain exactly how 3D printers are being used to help to fight this coronavirus.

We explain how mechanical fans and Venturi valves have really been implemented to save lives.

If you want to access the article, we leave you the following link “3D printing in times of Coronavirus“.

3D Printing and Coronavirus
Coronavirus Covid-19

José Julio Case

José Julio is a man who came to a hospital in Spain called “Gregorio Marañón” in 2019 with very intense and sudden low back pain.

There, the doctors determined that José was very ill, about to die due to a potentially unstable injury in the aorta.

He had a tear in his aorta that luckily his own tissues contained the hemorrhage at the moment.

The normal procedure in these cases is to request a prosthesis from a pharmaceutic, but it would have taken approximately 30 days to arrive.

For that reason, they were encouraged to try a procedure that had been previously performed only once, in the United States.

They 3D printed a copy of the affected part of José’s aorta, in order to use it as a template, with which they later designed the prosthesis that would be implanted in José.

Approximately ten hours passed since José entered the hospital until the new section of the aorta was connected to his arteries.

Video of José Julio case

Utrecht Case

In the Netherlands, at the Utrecht University Hospital, the skull of a 22-year-old woman grew inward.

To reduce pressure the entire skull was replaced.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Bon Verweij implanted a 3D printed plastic skull in this patient. It should be noted that this was the first operation of this type in the world, which lasted 23 hours.

The patient is already recovered and even working.

This event occurred in early 2014.

Medyssey Case

Medyssey Company (Dongducheon, Korea) is a company that manufactured 3D printed titanium skull implants between 2013 and 2014.

During that time, they manufactured implants for three patients who required them.

The first case is a 41-year-old woman, the second case a 32-year-old woman and the third case a 21-year-old woman.

The intention of the implant was not only to help improve the patient’s condition, but also to provide a more aesthetic appearance, since they were designed to be structurally similar to the morphology of the patient’s skull.

As a result of this, an interesting study was published that shows the results of these three operations.

If you wish to access the article, we will leave you the link “Skull Reconstruction with Custom Made Three-Dimensional Titanium Implant“.

War Cases

The Machine Bros does not support or promote wars.

We encourage the use of technology for productive purposes, which generate well-being, but the fact that there are wars or not is out of our hands, they are political decisions, from our point of view not correct.

We can contribute by explaining the cases about how 3D printing lives can be saved in these scenarios where misfortune, suffering, sadness, desolation, and hopelessness reign.

3D Printed Bone Brick

3D Printed Bone Brick
3D Printed Bone Brick

The “Bone brick” was created by Andrew Weightman and Paulo Bartolo, creating a kind of brick or block for bones.

Their intention is that they can be assembled as “a kind of LEGO” in order to fill the gap that remains between the bones when an individual suffers an injury that threatens to lose a limb.

Paulo Bartolo was inspired by his childhood, since he himself lived the effects of wars and having to move from one place to another, he himself had to live as a refugee as a child.

This motivated him to seek solutions for these people who live in this precarious situation.

In Syria, during the armed conflict, explosives known as “barrel bombs” have generally been dropped from helicopters.

These have caused incalculable suffering, misery and pain to thousands of innocent people.

When these explosive devices detonate, people who are within the radius of the explosion are very likely to die, and those who do not die, usually suffer very serious injuries to their limbs, large and irregular breaks, which even in the better conditions, in better-equipped hospitals, would be difficult to repair.

When this occurs in war zones, amputation will most likely be used, rather than trying to save the limb.

3D Printed Bone Brick
Bone Brick Sample

Here is when these “bone bricks” come into play, what they seek is that the limbs of those affected can be saved, even though they are in these war zones.

With this design, they sought to lower costs and reduce the probability of suffering an infection.

The “Bone brick” is degradable and allows new tissue to grow around it.

This structure will support the load like normal bone, induce the formation of new bone, and during this process, the bricks will dissolve.

The idea is that the surgeon can open a bag with “bone bricks” and put them together to fit that particular defect (eg caused by an explosion) and promote bone growth.

This project is in its final phase, as of June 2020 it had not yet been tested in humans but this project is still under development.

To learn more about this invention you can access the following link This 3D printed ‘bone brick’ could transform how we treat bomb injuries – inside story.

Andrew Weightman and Paulo Bartolo
Andrew Weightman and Paulo Bartolo in the lab. Photo taken by Jill Jennings – The University of Manchester, Photos courtesy of the author of the invention (Paulo Bartolo).


UXO is short for “Unexploded ordnance”, which refers to unexploded munitions or bombs.

They are explosive weapons, which were not detonated during the conflict in which they were used and remain on the ground for years and decades, thus representing a latent danger to the civilian population.

Anti-personnel mines and cluster bombs are some of the best-known and most numerous examples of unexploded ordnance.

How’s 3D printing involved with this matter? Well, these explosive devices must be deactivated by someone so that they do no harm.

The problem lies in training these individuals to be able to deactivate these explosives since it is not so easy to get inert bombs.

For this reason, Allen Tan director of applied technology of the Golden West Humanitarian Foundation develops replicas of these explosives printed in 3D.

3D Printed Ammo
3D printed ammo model used for training. Photo by Charlotte Pert – IRIN

This implies several advantages, since being made of plastic it is easier to transport and send to other countries, training costs are also cheaper, and it is easier to acquire a greater number of replicas to train more people.

3D Printing Saving Lives by Forecasting the Weather

There are countries that are very prone to flooding, some of them do not have enough economic resources to afford to purchase enough expensive meteorological systems to adequately monitor the climate.

Floods, when they are not forecast well in advance, are capable of ending many lives, since it is not possible to warn the population so they can be prevented.  

With 3D printing it seems that a solution has been found, with this technology, using some low-cost sensors and controllers like Arduino and Raspberry Pi, it is possible to build low-cost weather stations (around $ 200 USD per station).

Kelly Sponberg, program manager for The Joint Office for Science Support (JOSS) at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), working in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), lead the project for the fabrication and assembly of a low-cost weather station.

If you want to access the full article of the university, I leave you the following link “3D printers promise affordable weather stations for the developing world

3D Printed Weather Station
Weather station with 3D printed parts. Kelly sponberg — NOAA

3D Printing Can Save Animals Too (Case Patches)

3D Printing Saving Animals
Patches the dachshund

Patches is a 9-year-old dachshund who had a cancerous tumor about the size of an orange lodged in her head.

As the tumor grew in the skull, Dr. Michelle Oblak, a veterinary surgical oncologist at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College in Canada, also had to remove part of the skull to remove the tumor.

With 3D printing, she made a model of Patches’s skull, with which she rehearsed the operation before performing it.

She herself said, “I was able to perform the surgery even before entering the operating room.”

Once the case was fully studied, they 3D printed in titanium, a custom-made skull implant for Patches that would cover the part that would be exposed after removing the tumor.

3D Printed Skull of a Dog
Patches after the operation 🙂

The operation was a success, it marked a veterinary first in North America, it should be noted that 70% of the skull was replaced.

You can see the full news in the following link “3-D Printing Research Opens New Possibilities for Cancer Surgeries“.

Video of the procedure performed on Patches

Simulating Surgeries Using 3D Printing Technology

With 3D printing it is possible to perform the surgeries before executing it, this is possible since the organs that will be subjected to the operation are printed in 3D, but not any organ in general.

Doctors perform a 3D scan of the patient’s organs, so the simulated surgery gives a fairly realistic idea of what they will find when opening the patient.

In this way, it is also possible to save the lives of patients, because surgeons are able to rehearse the procedure over and over again, find the best way to do it, and when everything is ready, the actual surgery is performed, thus achieving a much higher success rate.

As is the case with aviator pilots, who before getting on a real plane first carry out practices in a flight simulator, and must complete certain flight hours in the simulator before starting to practice in the real aircraft.

We will show you some examples.

Kidney Transplant

Using 3D printing, kidney transplants have been planned in such a way that the operations have been successful, thus saving the lives of the patients involved.

As proof of this, we present the case of Lucy, who received a kidney from her father Chris Boucher’s.

Lucy’s Kidney Transplant Video

Perform Osteotomy

In Madrid, at the Gregorio Marañón General University Hospital, in the Orthopedic Surgery and Traumatology Service, Dr. Rubén Pérez Mañanes performs a medical procedure called a knee osteotomy.

Which is an operation in which cuts are made in a bone so that the surgeon can make changes in its position.

This practice is complex, since tools capable of cutting bone precisely at a certain length and angle must be used without any other tissue being damaged.

With 3D printing they are able to create templates of the patient’s bone, managing to plan and practice the operation, so that it is executed in the fastest and most accurate way.

If you want to read the original story, we leave it in the following link (In Spanish). Dr. Rubén Pérez Mañanes applies 3D printing to medicine.

3D Printed Knee
3D Printed Knee

Hearth Surgery

With the use of 3D printing technology, they have also been able to simulate heart surgeries with the same purpose, increasing the success rate of operations.

An example of this is the heart surgery that was applied to a girl between 4 and 5 years old, whose name is Mia Gonzáles.

She required to undergo a rather complex operation, and thanks to the simulation of the operation, executed through 3D printing replicas of Mia’s heart, it was carried out successfully, thus saving her life.

To learn more about this case, we leave you the following link How a 3-D-printer changed a 4-year-old’s heart and life.

Mia González holds up her Stratasys 3D-printed heart model
Mia González holds up her Stratasys 3D-printed heart model — Stratasys

Separation of Siamese Twins

3D printing has also made it possible to simulate operations or surgeries that seek to separate conjoined twins by replicating the organs or parts that join them, in order to plan and practice the surgery to be performed.

This was done in Ganzhou, China, where a team of ten doctors from the Fudan University Children’s Hospital separated twins.

In this medical center, six Siamese twins had been separated before, but this case was more complicated because the girls were joined at the hip.

The operation concluded successfully thanks to the planning and simulation carried out with the help of the 3D printed replicas of the part that held them together.

You can read the news in the following link “China: 3D printer helps separate conjoined twins”.

Futuristic Ambitions Using 3D Printing

The ambitions regarding the use of this technology (3D printing) to save lives is enormous, that is why we will show you some articles that talk about research that works around this.

3D Printing of Organs (Bioprinting)

They are looking to 3D print organs through a technology they call Bioprinting.

We leave you a link that talks about the topic “Bioprinting – 3D Printing That Can Save Lives”.

And we will also leave you a video “Bioprinting”.


3D Printed Food for People with Dysphagia

They propose the possibility of 3D printing modified and personalized foods for people who suffer from dysphagia, which is a disease that causes difficulties in eating (difficulty swallowing) to those who suffer from it.

If you want to know more about the subject we leave you the following link “How 3D food printers could improve mealtimes for people with swallowing disorders”.

3D Printing of Ovaries

They developed 3D-printed ovaries, which they implanted in infertile mice, thus making them give healthy offspring.

To learn more about this research we will leave you the following link “3D-printed ovaries allow infertile mice to give birth”.

3D Printing of a Heart

Scientists managed to create a 3D printed heart from stem cells.

For the development of the 3D printed heart, an image of a human heart obtained through an MRI was used as a template, but it was scaled to 1.3 centimeters long, similar in size to the heart of a mouse.

At 14 days the stem cells already covered 90% of the surface, and after 6 weeks 87% of the stem cells managed to transform into cardiomyocytes (cells capable of spontaneously and individually contracting).

To the scientists’ satisfaction, the 3D printed fabric had the adequate cell density to spontaneously contract and move fluids.

You can read the news at the following link “Minnesota researchers 3D print working human heart pump”.

You can also access the scientific article at the following link “In Situ Expansion, Differentiation, and Electromechanical Coupling of Human Cardiac Muscle in a 3D Bioprinted, Chambered Organoid”.

3D Printing of a Kidney

Two teams made up of students from the University of Connecticut developed an artificial kidney based on the use of 3D printing.

They themselves clarify that “Currently 3D printing technology does not have the necessary resolution to print a structure that actually filters the blood, the 3D file is only from the kidney shell.”

To carry out the filtering, each team approached the problem with slightly different techniques.

To access the full article we will provide you with the following link “Students Design Artificial Kidney with 3-D Printing”.

Conclusions About 3D Printing Can Save Lives

There was a time when the topic of 3D printing weapons made a lot of “noise”, with the news about the Liberator printing, and the work of Cody Wilson in Defense Distributed.

But news, where 3D printing has managed to save people, did not escalate so much, and that is precisely why we are here, this is one of the functions of The Machine Bros, to publicize the great things that can be achieved with this technology.

We have shown it on other occasions with articles such as Adaptive aids with 3D printing and 3D Printing in Times of Coronavirus.

So Maker, be proud to be a part of it, just as we, The Machine Bros, are proud to contribute knowledge about it and that we are all part of this community of developers.

We can conclude and affirm that 3D printing can save lives!


See you soon Machine Bros!



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