3D-printed ears that look and act like the real thing

3D-printed ears that look and act like the real thing

Cornell bioengineers and Weill Cornell Medical College physicians have created an artificial ear that looks and acts like a natural ear, giving new hope to thousands of children born with a congenital deformity called microtia.

They used 3-D printing and injectable gels made of living cells to fashion ears that are practically identical to a human ear.

Over a three-month period, these flexible ears grew cartilage to replace the collagen used to mold them

A 3-D printer in Weill Hall deposits cells encapsulated in a hydrogel that will develop into new ear tissue. The printer takes instructions from a file built from 3-D photographs of human ears taken with a scanner. (Credit: Lindsay France/University Photography)

The novel ear may be the solution reconstructive surgeons have long wished for to help children born with ear deformity, said co-lead author Dr. Jason Spector, director of the Laboratory for Bioregenerative Medicine and Surgery and associate professor of plastic surgery at Weill Cornell.

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