As 3D printers become more technologically advanced, their capabilities are becoming revolutionary in the medical field.
Locally, Saint Alphonsus is using the machines to replicate and replace parts of the human skull during cranial surgery.
The Boise Public Library is capable of making temporary prosthetics with their printers.
Dr. Bruce Andersen, the director of the neuroscience center at Saint Al's, says neurosurgeons have been looking for simple ways to patch holes in the human skull.
"Back in the old days, when I was young we would have to cobble these together using parts of bone and cartilage and they never really quite turned out all that well," he said. "The new ones like this are truly perfect."
Andersen says using skull implants created from a 3D printer has been in practice for the past several years at Saint Al's and has now become the standard of care.
"It's certainly made repair of skull defects more accurate, safer and quicker," says Dr. Andersen.
3D printers over at the Boise Public Library don't have the same capabilities as the machines at Saint Al's but are still very sophisticated in what they can create for the medical world: temporary prosthetic arms and hands.
"It's plastic so it's not to be a complete replacement of a prosthetic but it is a very handy thing to have if you are a child and you grow and you need to keep replacing it, it cuts down on that cost for that person, it's still plastic but it's a good substitute," says Eliza Krumpe," a librarian at the Boise Public Library.
The Boise Public Library partners with a program called Enable, which will take hand or arm measurements, transfer the data into the printer and create a prosthetic. It's also free.
"We are ready and if people want to chip in with it or have us help with it we are happy to do it," says Krumpe.