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Introduction3D printing isn't new to 2017, but this year, researchers pushed the boundaries of the seemingly sci-fi technique, printing objects that required intricate details — such as a lifelike model of a newborn and a microscopic camera — as well as objects made with materials that may sound surprising, including cheese and glass.
Read on for a roundup of the coolest and kookiest things that were 3D-printed in 2017.
A puppy maskSlide 2 of 21
A puppy maskA 4-month-old Staffordshire bull terrier puppy became the first patient to use a new 3D-printed mask to help with recovery from serious facial injuries. The puppy's right cheekbone and jawbone, as well as her temporomandibular joint (the joint that connects the jawbone to the skull), were fractured when another dog attacked her.
The puppy, named Loca, was lucky it arrived at the University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, where vets at the university had been cooperating with colleagues from the UC Davis College of Engineering on developing the "Exo-K9 Exoskeleton" mask for dogs. Loca was the ideal patient to test the technology on.
First, engineers scanned Loca's skull to design a custom-fit mask, which was then printed with a 3D printer. The mask held Loca's fractured face bones in place in the same way a cast holds fractured arm or leg bones. Within a month, the puppy could eat hard kibble, and a 3-month checkup showed that the temporomandibular joint was healing as expected.Slide 3 of 21
Mouse ovariesSlide 4 of 21
Mouse ovariesA female mouse fitted with 3D-printed ovaries gave birth to healthy pups in an experiment conducted at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
The result was hailed as a breakthrough, as it may one day lead to new ways to treat infertility in humans, though much more research is needed. It could be particularly useful to women whose ovaries have been damaged because of cancer treatment, the researchers said.
Using the 3D-printing technology, the researchers created an elaborate porous scaffold made of gelatin. (Gelatin is a type of collagen, a natural protein found in the human body in large quantities.) The structure was then populated with ovarian cells from another mouse. The researchers tested various shapes of pores before landing on the particular shape that provided the right amount of support to the ovarian cells.
The experiment was a success: The implanted cells started behaving as cells in natural healthy ovaries would, eventually producing hormones that drive the mouse's reproduction cycle. and enabling it to get pregnant.Slide 5 of 21
A residential houseSlide 6 of 21
A residential houseThe first 3D-printed residential house was constructed in less then 24 hours in the suburbs of Moscow in March. The walls of the studio-like 400-square-foot (37 square meters) home were printed using a mobile construction 3D-printer developed by Moscow-headquartered startup Apis Cor.
Instead of printing individual concrete panels that would be later manually assembled, the 3D printer printed the walls and partitions as one fully connected structure, allowing for the house's unusual round shape.
The roof, doors and windows were the only components that had to be installed subsequently by human workers. The prototype house cost about $10,134, or $25 per square foot ($275 per square meter). The most expensive components, according to the developers, were the windows and the doors.
The company believes that 3D printing could make construction not only considerably faster but also more eco-friendly.Slide 7 of 21
House of glassSlide 8 of 21