Facial reconstruction
3D printer will be used to reconstruct a man\'s face (Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board)

Surgeons in Wales are preparing to use a 3D printer to rebuild a man's face after a motorbike accident left him with serious facial injuries.

Led by Adrian Sugar from Morriston Hospital in Swansea, surgeons are preparing to restore the man's face with titanium implants created with a 3D printer.

The unnamed patient's face was crushed in a motorbike crash and the titanium plates will be used to reposition his facial bones so they match the side of his face that was not injured in the accident.

Peter Evans, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University's Maxillofacial Laboratory Services Manager, said: "The patient suffered trauma and had multiple injuries across his body, including some quite severe facial injuries.

"He underwent emergency surgery at the time and we are now at the stage where we can do a proper reconstruction of his face."

Science Museum exhibit

The reconstruction is the result of a partnership between Morriston Hospital's Maxillofacial Unit and the National Centre for Product Design and Development Research (PDR) based at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Sugar and Evans worked together with experts from the PDR to plan the surgery, working from a CT scan that allows them to create a mirror image of the undamaged side of the man's face.

They will then cut and position the bones with pinpoint accuracy and use the 3D printed implants that have been custom made for the patient.

The operation will be a landmark case for 3D printing technology and, as a result, has been featured in an exhibition at London's Science Museum ahead of the procedure, which is due to take place in the near future.

"We have done everything up the point of surgery. The concept of the operation has been virtually designed and we hope to do the work very soon," said Evans.

"The patient's facial symmetry will be restored so he should be back to normal as far as his facial looks are concerned."