Science Illustrated

Smartphone and 3D printer provide man with new face

By means of easily accessible technology in the shape of a smartphone app and a 3D printer, scientists can create a lifelike and cheap face prosthesis.


A Brazilian man, who survived cancer, has been provided with a face prosthesis that was created by means of a smartphone app and a 3D printer.

In 2008, Carlito Conceiçao was diagnosed with a very aggressive type of mouth cancer, but after life-saving surgery, in which doctors managed to remove the fast-growing tumour, the former salesman's face included a gaping hole in the place where his right eye, cheek-bone, and part of the nose used to be. The facial prosthesis that Conceiçao was subsequent­ly equipped with, caused him lots of problems because it kept falling off, and in the end, Conceiçao hardly dared to leave his house, developing severe depression.

Conceiçao's salvation was a new and cheap treatment that was developed by scientists at São Paulo's State University. Using a free app that can convert photograph­s into 3D models, which can subsequent­ly be printed, Conceiçao has been equipped with a new silicone prosthesis. Apart from being cheap, the prosthesis is very lifelike and easy to put on and take off. It is anchored with magnets that attach to screws in his skull.

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