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Today, the victim of a traumatic injury has to pay upwards of $5,000 to have a prosthetic ear, nose, or lip fabricated and painted by an artist—a painful process that requires physical molds to be made of mutilated body parts and demands multiple fitting sessions over a period of months.
Fripp Design, a consultancy in Sheffield, England, is modernizing the process by taking advantage of 3-D printer and scanner technology. In their system, 3-D data is captured painlessly using photogrammetry, a technique that takes images captured from an array of cameras and stitches the results into an editable CAD model. These files are then cross-referenced with MRI data and CT scans to ensure a perfect fit.
Digital sculptors use that data and a library of 3-D modeled body parts to repair the damaged areas. Pores, birthmarks, and wrinkles are added to the virtual model to make it feel organic and age appropriate. Skin color is captured in the photographs and overlaid on the simulation to create a perfect match with the surviving tissue.
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