3D printed windpipe

A Very Merry Christmas to this Brave Child, Who Can Live a Normal Life Thanks to a 3D Printed Windpipe

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Jake and Natalie Peterson and their son Garrett in October 2014.

Garrett Peterson was born in 2012 with a defective windpipe. It would periodically just collapse, because the cartilage was so soft, and he’d stop breathing. This would happen every day — sometimes multiple times a day.

“It was really awful to have to watch him go through his episodes,” says his father, Jake Peterson of Layton, Utah. “He’d be fine and then all of a sudden start turning blue. It was just like watching your child suffocate over and over again.”

It was so bad that Garrett couldn’t leave the hospital; he spent more than a year in intensive care. This time last year, doctors weren’t sure how much longer they could keep him alive.

“Garrett was so sick in the hospital and we — we really, really thought we were going to lose him,” remembers his mother, Natalie Peterson. “The doctors were telling us, you know, that there really wasn’t anything more they could do.”

Then the Petersons heard about some doctors at the University of Michigan who were using 3-D printers to custom-make tiny devices they call “splints” to prop open defective windpipes for babies like Garrett. The Petersons rushed their son to Ann Arbor.

When Shots first reported this story back in March, Garrett had just gotten his splint, and it seemed to be working really well. But at that point, he was still in the hospital.

Two weeks later, he was finally able to leave the hospital for the first time in his life.

Since getting home, Garrett has still needed some help, especially at night, his parents say. But he’s getting better every day.

“He can breathe — like, on his own completely,” says Natalie Peterson. “It’s so nice just to hear him breathe … to be able to hear him take big deep breaths and things that we never knew he’d be able to do.”

Other physical problems Garrett was having have also improved, such as complications with his heart and digestive system.

“It’s just been amazing to see how much it’s helped him,” Jake says. “It’s just been completely night and day.”

The Petersons have started living a normal life with their son — they can now do things like roll around with him on the floor, read him books on their laps and laugh together at his favorite Mickey Mouse videos.

Natalie remembers a moment recently when Garrett fell asleep on the floor of their family room, which was dark except for the lights on the Christmas tree.

“I was sitting there thinking, ‘Wow,’ ” she says. “We never knew if we would be able to get Garrett home. To be able to see him just napping — breathing comfortably on the floor in our family room — it was just overwhelming.”

Dr. Glenn Green, a pediatric head and neck specialist who treated Garrett, says he expects that the boy will continue to improve.

Garrett Peterson in October 2014.

“We know the splint has been opening up the way that we wanted,” Green says. “And so the airway is able to grow. So, at this point, we’re just waiting for further growth to happen and for the splint to eventually dissolve.”

Another boy Green had treated earlier, on an experimental basis, and a third baby who got a splint a few months after Garrett are also doing well, Green says. So he’s now working to get his 3-D-printed windpipe splints officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which he hopes will make it easier to help even more babies.

“I’m just extremely pleased to see the children doing well,” Green says. “It just is the most rewarding thing for a physician — to see somebody that had never been home from the hospital now able to enjoy the holidays. I couldn’t ask for a better present.”

The Petersons are looking forward to Christmas, too.

“We’re just so, so excited to have him home and to able to, you know, spend Christmas morning in our pajamas — just hanging out in our family room,” Natalie says. “It’s going to be great.”

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3D printed food for soldiers!

Feeling Hungry? Check out what’s on the menu for the future soldiers of America!

http://www.npr.org/…/361187352/army-eyes-3d-printed-food-fo…

Army researchers will try to find ways to 3-D print nutritious food with less heavy packaging than the current military meals.

Army scientists have spent decades concocting meals that last without refrigeration and survive high-altitude airdrops. And now, the Army is eyeing a new form of cooking: 3-D printing! Yes, food that comes fresh out of a printer, for our troops.

Lauren Oleksyk, a food technologist leading the team at the Army’s Natick research center, lays out the vision.

Imagine soldiers who are strapped, head to toe, with sensors that measure if they’re high or low in potassium or cholesterol.

“We envision to have a 3-D printer that is interfaced with the soldier. And that sensor can deliver information to the computer software,” Oleksyk says. “And then they would be able to have either powdered or liquid matrices that are very nutrient dense, that they have on demand that they can take and eat immediately to fill that need.”

“Liquid matrices” that are nutrient “dense.” And you print them?!

You read that right.

The Army is turning to 3-D printers for many purposes, including a nutrition project — to stamp out the equivalent of PowerBars, but personalized for the battlefield.

The Department of Defense has just approved research funding. And it’s going to take a lot of research. While regular printers put ink on paper, 3-D printers blast liquids and powders into complex shapes. But it’s not clear if printers could mold a solid like carrots — and what would happen to the food’s nutritional value.

“There’s synthetic types of meats, there’s real beef, there’s real meat,” Oleksyk says. “And we would see what that does in the printing process to that protein, whether it’s animal based or plant based.” She’s talking about this research with the MIT Lincoln Lab and NASA too.

Of course, the 3-D food will have to pass a taste test, just like the current rations — which are called MREs, or meals ready to eat.

Oleksyk mailed me a bunch to sample. I try a jalapeno pepper jack-flavored patty. It is full of flavor, and also very processed, like someone had to jam a lot into a little patty.

The kitchens that make this patty use flaming hot ovens and extreme heat to sterilize it. Oleksyk says if 3-D printers could use less heat, the patty could also taste better — less like a compact muscle and more like fresh ground meat.

“We hope so! It’s not being done, so it’s something that we will investigate in our project,” she says.

In the food world, 3-D printing is just getting started — and it’s a sweet start, literally.

Liz von Hasseln is giving me an online video tour of The Sugar Lab, a 3-D printing outfit in Los Angeles that turns sugar into sweet candy sculptures for wedding cakes and fancy cocktails. The startup was acquired by 3D Systems, which is sharing its technology with the military in informal talks.

She points to a printer that’s the size of an industrial photocopier and explains, “What the printer does is, a lot like making frosting in a bowl, it basically adds the wet ingredients of the frosting to the dry ingredients very, very precisely in very fine layers.”

Von Hasseln sent me some samples to try — and they’re very different from the military food. I unwrap a delicate sphere that’s a little bigger than a lollipop. It tastes like Sweet Tarts.

It’s hard for me to imagine this technology producing anything nutritious or durable. But von Hasseln husband, Kyle, co-founder of The Sugar Lab, says the printer’s ability to vary textures — to make food soft or hard — would be critical for soldiers who are injured or on the move.

“Dialing in the exact density of food could mean that they could eat more easily and because of that, as a consequence, they might even eat more or be healthier,” he says.

3-D printed food sounds sci-fi. But according to military scientists and 3-D experts, these meals for soldiers are on track to be ready by 2025.

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