QUT researchers are helping to develop revolutionary 3D-printed prosthetic ears. The FutureHear project focuses on children with microtia, a rare condition where the outer ear doesn’t form.

Imogen Kars reports.


Brisbane-based charity Hear and Say is working alongside QUT to bring the FutureHear project to life.

Microtia affects one in 6,000 children like Ole Walton.

The project aims to create prosthetics in the short term, then a real ear from engineered tissue.

It begins with a 3D printer at QUT using biocompatible materials.

Eventually, these will be surgically implanted.

Mia Woodruff, QUT Associate Professor: “The ability to use iPhone technology to scan a child’s ear to take a perfect image and create a replica and then implant on the other side, this is not science fiction, this is achievable in the laboratory.”

Although the science behind the project is a world first, funding from the Federal Government has fallen through the cracks.

FutureHear has now turned to crowdfunding to raise the $200,000 it needs.

Mia Woodruff, QUT Associate Professor: “And so we turned to crowd funding, because the people get it. They understand this kind of technology will help them.”

Angelika Walton, Ole’s Mother: “It’s exciting who know what could possibly happen now.”

At the moment the only option for families is to seek help in the United States.

It’s hoped by Christmas, Ole with receive a present he’ll never forget.

Imogen Kars, QUT News.