Doctors have created a modified inkjet printer that can 'print' patches for broken bones:
The process will revolutionise bone graft surgery, which currently relies on either bits of bone taken from other parts of the body or ceramic-like substitutes.
Professor Jake Barralet of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, explained: "The "paper" in our printer is a thin bed of cement-like powder. The inkjets spray the cement with an acid which reacts with it and goes hard.
"That deals with one layer. Then new layers of fresh powder are sprayed on top, and the layers build up to the shape we need."
It takes only ten minutes for the printer, which is the size of about three filing cabinets, to print a typical bone graft.
The printed graft acts as a bridge to allow the body to replace the damaged section with new bone. Crucially, the substance created by the printing process contains the same building blocks as real human bone, allowing the graft to eventually dissolve harmlessly into the body.