CSIRO
CSIRO

Real-Life Bionic Man Receives 3D-Printed Ribs and Sternum

CSIRO
CSIRO

In a groundbreaking surgery, a 54-year-old Spanish cancer patient had his sternum and a portion of his ribcage replaced with a 3D-printed titanium implant.

The patient, whose name has not been released, suffered from a chest wall sarcoma, a type of tumor that adheres to the cage of bones and tissue protecting the heart and lungs. His surgeons, Salamanca University Hospital’s José Aranda, Marcelo Jimene, and Gonzalo Varela, knew that finding an artificial replacement for the affected bones would be complicated work, and enlisted Australian medical device company Anatomics to create the necessary implant.

“We thought, maybe we could create a new type of implant that we could fully customize to replicate the intricate structures of the sternum and ribs,” Dr. Aranda says in a press release issued by the office of the Australian Minister for Industry and Science.

Anatomics had the device manufactured in CSIRO’s (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, a federal government agency) 3D printing facility, Lab 22. As explained in the video below, 3D printing gave the designers more flexibility, allowing them to fully customize the implant to fit the patient, something that would have been very costly and difficult with traditional manufacturing techniques.

Alex Kingsbury, a member of CSIRO’s manufacturing team, adds, “As well as being customizable, [3D printing] also allows for rapid prototyping—which can make a big difference if a patient is waiting for surgery.”

To create the prosthetic, the Anatomics team first used a high resolution CT scan to make a 3D replica of the patient’s chest wall. From this, the team could glean the exact measurements and capabilities necessary for the device. CSIRO’s Arcam printer, which cost $1.3 million AUD, “works by directing an electron beam at a bed of titanium powder in order to melt it,” Kingsbury explains.

In his press release, Australian Minister for Industry and Science Ian Macfarlane commends everyone involved for this massive step forward in the field of prosthetics. “This breakthrough is an impressive example of what can be achieved when industry and science come together,” he says.

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Netherlands Officials Want to Pay Residents to Bike to Work
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iStock

Thinking about relocating to the Netherlands? You might also want to bring a bike. Government officials are looking to compensate residents for helping solve their traffic congestion problem and they want businesses to pay residents to bike to work, as The Independent reports.

Owing to automobile logjams on roadways that keep drivers stuck in their cars and cost the economy billions of euros annually, Dutch deputy infrastructure minister Stientje van Veldhoven recently told media that she's endorsing a program that would pay employees 19 cents for every kilometer (0.6 miles) they bike to work.

That doesn't sound like very much, but perhaps citizens who need to trek several miles each way would appreciate the cumulative boost in their weekly paychecks. For employers, the benefit would be a healthier workforce that might take fewer sick days and reduce parking needs.

Veldhoven says she also plans on designing a program that would assist employers in supplying workers with bicycles. The goal is to have 200,000 people opting for manual transportation over cars. If the program proceeds, it might find a receptive population. The Netherlands is already home to 22.5 million bikes, more than the 17.1 million people living there. In Amsterdam, a quarter of residents bike to work.

There's no timeline for implementing the pay-to-bike plan, but early trial studies indicate that the expense might not have to be a long-term prospect. Study subjects continued to bike to work even after the financial rewards stopped.

[h/t The Independent]

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New Health-Monitoring Litter Box Could Save You a Trip to the Vet
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iStock

Unsure if your cat is sick or just acting aloof per usual? A “smart toilet” for your fur baby could help you decide whether a trip to the vet is really necessary.

Enter the Pet Care Monitor: More than a litter box, the receptacle is designed to analyze cat urine for health issues, The Asahi Shimbun in Tokyo reports. Created by the Japan-based Sharp Corporation—better known for consumer electronics such as TVs, mobile phones, and the world's first LCD calculator—the product will be available for purchase on the company’s website starting July 30 (although shipping limitations may apply).

Sensors embedded in the monitor can measure your cat’s weight and urine volume, as well as the frequency and duration of toilet trips. That information is then analyzed by an AI program that compares it to data gleaned from a joint study between Sharp Corp and Tottori University in Japan. If there are any red flags, a report will be sent directly to your smartphone via an application called Cocoro Pet. The monitor could be especially useful for keeping an eye on cats with a history of kidney and urinary tract problems.

If you have several cats, the company offers sensors to identify each pet, allowing separate data sets to be collected and analyzed. (Each smart litter box can record the data of up to three cats.)

The Pet Care Monitor costs about $225, and there’s an additional monthly fee of roughly $3 for the service. Sharp Corporation says it will continue developing health products for pets, and it has already created a leg sensor that can tell if a dog is nervous by measuring its heart and respiratory rates.

[h/t The Asahi Shimbun]

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