We've seen plenty of 3-D printed medical implants for patients that require replacement tissues, but this use of 3-D printed biopolymer to augment and correct an existing tissue highlights just how amazing the convergence of 3-D printing and medicine is (and will be). Kaiba Gionfriddo was born apparently a normal, healthy baby, but at six months of age he stopped breathing. Regularly. Due to a condition known as tracheobronchomalacia Kaiba's windpipe was collapsing during regular breathing, and he had to be hooked to a ventilator to be kept alive.
Short of conventional options, Kaiba's doctors contacted researchers at the University of Michigan who had been experimenting with 3-D printed bio-absorbable polymers. Using high resolution imaging to build a digital picture of Kaiba's trachea, they were able to print a customized biopolymer tracheal splint for the infant using a 3-D printer.
Read more: Popular science