WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – Very soon the 3D printer could be as common a tool in your doctor’s medical bag as stethoscopes and MRI machines, reports CNet.

After successfully replacing 75% of a patient’s skull with a 3D printed implant last year, Oxford Performance Materials has won FDA approval for use of an implant that can help reconstruct damage to facial bones.

Called the OsteoFab Patient-Specific Facial Device, the implants are made from a biochemical material that behaves like real bone.

“With the clearance of our 3D printed facial device, we now have the ability to treat these extremely complex cases in a highly effective and economical way, printing patient-specific maxillofacial implants from individualized MRI or CT digital image files from the surgeon,” said Scott DeFelice, CEO of Oxford Performance Materials.

The implant would represent a tremendous savings in time and money. Because the implant can be printed for each individual in the hospital, the patient can get into surgery sooner rather than later and not have to pay for a lab to make custom parts.

The implants have not been used in the United States, but Oxford says they are available for doctors to use.

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