By Tanya Lewis, Staff Writer
Published: 09/03/2013 09:22 AM EDT on LiveScience
When Kaiba Gionfriddo was just a few months old, a 3D-printed device saved his life.
Kaiba was born with a rare condition called tracheobronchomalacia, which meant his windpipe was weak, and would collapse and prevent air from flowing to his lungs. Researchers at the University of Michigan sought approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a 3D-printed tracheal splint
, which they implanted around the baby's airway to help him breathe.
Thanks to 3D printing
, a technology that produces objects of any shape, including medical devices highly customized for patients, from a computer model, these kinds of stories are becoming increasingly common. In order to keep up, the FDA is now looking at how it might evaluate medical devices made using 3D printers.