Researcher Lawrence Bonassar holds a fabricated ear created with a 3D printer (Photo: Lindsay France/Cornell University Photography)
Cornell's 3D printer, fabricating one of the ears (Photo: Lindsay France/Cornell University Photography)
When a child is born with the congenital deformity known as microtia, they have an underdeveloped external ear – also known as the pinna. Even though their inner ear may be normal, the lack of the external structure can affect their hearing, plus it looks unusual. Normally, a replacement pinna is made from a foam-like material (or sometimes even cartilage from the rib cage) and implanted under the skin, although these don’t always look particularly natural. Now, scientists from Cornell University have developed a more realistic pinna grown from biological material, using a 3D printer.
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