Biofabricating an Ear Prostheses with the Help of a Smartphone

QUT doctoral candidate Rena Cruz released outcomes in August of a series of studies she has undertaken to identify the best process for scanning the contra-lateral ear of a child with unilateral microtia.
Ninety percent of microtia cases are unilateral. In bilateral microtia, both ears are affected and this occurs in one out of 25,000 births.

Rena’s research trialled the use of an iPhone to capture the details needed to design and 3D print a new silicone ear that faithfully reproduces the intricate details of the child’s ear. Prior studies suggested that a scanning technique called photogrammetry could be undertaken with a smartphone to avoid using expensive industrial 3D scanners.

To test this theory, Rena charted the whole process including the use of the smartphone to scan the ear (capturing its exact shape, size and colour), the design, set up and printing of the mould, the casting of the prosthesis and demoulding of the ear. She concluded that silicon prostheses can be developed with non-invasive, low cost, patient specific processes, a finding that could make 3D printed ears more affordable and accessible for all.