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How digital 3-D sculpting is changing the face of prosthetics

How digital 3-D sculpting is changing the face of prosthetics

February 16, 2016

Updated June 30, 2016

Media Arts and Science faculty member Zebulun Wood and his student researcher, 2016 graduate Cade B.T. Jacobs, created a prosthetic mandible utilizing digital scanning and 3-D sculpture and printing technology—revolutionizing a field that has long relied on more cumbersome materials and techniques.

Their work, and the unique collaboration between the IU School of Informatics and Computing and the IU School of Dentistry at IUPUI, is putting a new face on maxillo-facial prosthetic prototypes and the patients who use them. The partnership capitalizes on IUPUI’s vast expertise to create processes that assist in digital surgical design.

Dr. Travis Bellicchi from the School of Dentistry approached Wood when his patient Shirley Anderson required a new prosthetic—the size of which made traditional methods both time consuming and challenging.

The work positions IUPUI as a pioneer in pursuing digital 3-D sculpting and printing to create skin-based facial prosthetics made of silicone.

Wood and Jacobs, pictured with the model of Anderson’s digitally created likeness, utilized technology and the expertise of staff from the Advanced Visualization Lab (AVL) to create the new mandible.

“Without Travis’s vision and excitement, these opportunities wouldn’t exist,” says Wood, a digital arts and media lecturer who had never considered using digital 3-D technologies in this way. “It’s nice to be on a campus with a health care focus like IUPUI—to be in an atmosphere where helping others is integral to our research.”