Repairing critical human skull injuries requires the production and use of customized cranial implants and involves the integration of computer aided design and manufacturing (CAD and CAM). The main causes for large cranial defects are trauma, cranial tumors, infected craniotomy bone flaps and external neurosurgical decompression. The success of reconstructive cranial surgery depends upon: the preoperative evaluation of the defect, the design and manufacturing of the implant, and the skill of the operating surgeon. Cranial implant design is usually carried out manually using CAD although this process is very time-consuming and the quality of the end product depends wholly upon the skill of the operator. This paper presents an alternative automated method for the design of custom-made cranial plates in a PHANToM-based haptic environment, and their direct fabrication in biocompatible metal using electron beam melting (EBM) technology.
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