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Livin' Life in 3D by Dr. Ben Umbel DOT

by Dr. Ben Umbel DOT

The technology for 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has been around for several decades. It gradually made its way into the medical community and the orthopedic specialty, and now has a home in the foot and ankle space – from custom cages for bone loss to patient-specific cutting guides for ankle arthroplasty.

Habitat for Humanity

This rapidly growing technology has not stopped at solving complex medical problems for patients. Instead, it continues to expand with the goal of improving another crisis: affordable and efficient housing construction.

Habitat for Humanity has tapped into the 3D printing game with its first custom 3D-printed home. The 1,200 sq. foot Virginia home, equipped with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms was completed in December 2021. In the middle of a pandemic as lumber and labor costs and timelines have significantly increased, the need for affordable and accessible homes has never been so important. The concrete exterior of this home was built in just 28 hours using an Alquist 3D printer, decreasing jobsite waste and providing improved protection against severe weather.

It seems as though 3D printing is repeatedly coming to the rescue and is here to stay. Its use will only continue to expand, both in the medical community as well as in improving our communities.

Dr. Benjamin D. Umbel is a chief resident completing his orthopedic surgery residency at OhioHealth in Columbus, OH. He will complete his Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Surgery fellowship at Duke University Medical Center in 2022-2023.

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