Brazilian Carlito Conceiçao, a cancer survivor, has become the first person in the world to have got a part of the face restructured with a 3D-printed model made using a smartphone.
The 54-year-old, who was diagnosed with an acute form of facial cancer in 2008, had lost a part of the right side of his face, half of his mouth and suffered damage to his throat. The cancer spread so rapidly that it took away his right eye and a part of his nose. It was controlled before it could damage his brain and kill him.
And after doctors removed a carcinogenic tumour, it left a gaping hole on his face making it look hideous.
But now, thanks to the 3D-printing technology, Carlito has got a face replacement he has always sought.
A smartphone helped build the missing face for Carlito and print a 3D image of the same.
This was Carlito’s second prosthetic: “My first prosthesis was fragile, poor quality and kept falling off because it was held on by glue. I felt totally disfigured and I looked terrible. I lost all my confidence and fell into a deep depression.”
The man behind Carlito’s new face is Dr Rodrigo Salazar, a Peruvian dentist and specialist in oral rehabilitation, who has been working on the project since 2014.
And how did Dr Salazar create the prosthetic? He used a free app called Autodesk 123D Catch which turns photos into 3D models.
Since smartphones these days come equipped with integrated accelerometer and a gyroscope sensor, the photos taken are of very high quality.
Once the photos were taken, a low-cost printer was used to build the prototype of the face.
The rest of the work – colouring, texture, etc – was done by clinical artists. It took less than 20 hours for doctors to create the prosthesis for Carlito’s face.