Many doctors these days are now including 3D printing as part of their many surgical procedures. Dr. Jamie Levine from NYU Langone noted that there is a paradigm shift when it comes to doing surgical procedure in terms of using and relying on 3D printing.
A lot of hospitals all over the United States have already embraced 3D printing to create tools, models or craft tissues used for surgery. One of the hospitals that are leading the paradigm shift is the Institute for Reconstructive Plastic Surgery at NYU Langone. The surgeons from NYU Langone use special printers to create tools and 3D models that can save doctors from performing long and expensive surgeries. In fact, the hospital is able to save $20,000 to $30,000 for every reconstruction that the do.
The use of 3D printing in medical technology is very promising. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration has already approved the creation of 3D printed pills and vertebrae. There are also many researchers all over the world working with 3D printed organs to be used in organ transplantation.
Although medical-grade 3D printers still remain expensive, they can make infinite types of objects like surgical tools, anatomical models and other devices. Fortunately, there are now many companies that are developing cost-effective printers thus the cost is targeted to go down in the future.
There is a wide potential for innovation when it comes to using the 3D printing technology. With this technology, it is no wonder if many hospitals all over the world will rely on 3D printing technology to treat different diseases.
Surgery on the anterior crucial ligament (ACL) is difficult. The standard surgical procedure involves drilling a tunnel on the tibia to remove the ligament and reconstructing it by using transplanted graft. In most cases, the affected area that has been treated has a good chance of re-tearing after being repaired. However, this technique has many limitations such as entering the knee through the tibia can make it difficult to reattach the ligament to the original attachment point.
Having said this, Dr. Dana Piasecki and the other orthopedic surgeons from the OrthoCarolina Sports Medicine came up with a solution by creating their own 3D printed surgical tool which allows them to drill and follow the normal path of the ligament and attach to the femur. This new tool mimics the natural positioning of the ACL.
The doctors turned to 3D printing to create a complicated tool but save costs on the production. The tool was made from a strong biocompatible metal to accommodate different knee sizes of different patients. The tool was finally manufactured by Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. The final tool is a low-cost device that is finally registered by the FDA as a Class 1 medical device.
Currently, the new medical tool dubbed as Pathfinder has 95% success rate when it comes to anchoring grafts to the original ligament. This also made it easier for doctors to carry out ACL surgery. With this tool, many orthopedic patients in need of ACL surgery will have new hope that they will get the best possible treatment that medical science can provide.
Creating multicellular structures is a delicate procedure. For instance, the human heart is comprised of more than 2 billions of muscle cells that should be aligned and interact with one another to work properly. While 3D Bioprinting is a promising technology that allows scientists to create biological tissues, the problem remains—there is no single method available that uses a high level of precision to create multicellular structures that are functional, viable, and has good integrity.
Researchers from the Carnegie Mellon, Penn State as well as MIT have developed the acoustic tweezers technology which is a technique that utilizes sound waves to trap as well as manipulate individual cells. This technology is also used to align, transport, separate, and pattern individual cells without causing any cellular damages.
The acoustic tweezers created by the researchers come with a microfluidic device that uses sound wave generators to create sound waves along the edge of the device. The design of the device allows the researchers to manipulate and capture single cells.
The device provides a precise level of control when manipulating cells in terms of their spacing and geometry thus allowing scientists to explore the creation of tissues with complex geometries and patterns.
The results of the study provide a novel way for scientists to manipulate live cells in 3D without any invasive contact or biochemical labeling. This leaves the biological state during the manipulation in its original and unadulterated state. This can lead to new possibilities in research applications in fields like neuroscience, regenerative medicine, biomanufacturing, tissue engineering and cancer treatment.
A kidney transplant is a very sensitive operation and patients need to be compatible so that the organ recipient will not reject the donor organ. 3D printing paved the way for surgeons to be able to transplant an adult kidney to a toddler recipient.
In Northern Ireland, a 3-year old toddler is the first child in the world to survive a kidney transplant using adult kidneys. The toddler suffered from heart failure which had dire consequences on her kidneys as they were robbed of oxygen. Instead of settling with regular kidney dialysis, her parents decided to have her undergo a kidney transplant.
As stated by Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation, the kidney transplant was the first of its kind as it uses 3D printing to aid the transplant. The doctors used 3D printing technology to create a model of the patient’s abdomen. They also created a model of the donor’s kidney –the patient’s father –to see how everything fits. This minimizes the risks involved in the transplant.
Transplant specialist Pankaj Chandak noted that the surgery is quite complex thus the use of 3D printing technology helped surgeons plan ahead of time to increase the success of the operation and minimize the risk to the patient and donor during the surgery.
The operation was a complete success and doctors are excited to use this technology to treat different conditions, as well as help doctors, plan their course of action before the actual surgery. 3D printing has definitely made its way to mainstream medicine.
3D bioprinters are able to print living tissues for medical transplants and testing to name a few. However, recreating human tissues require a combination of human cells, biogels as well as different types of bioink materials aside from the nutrients and oxygen needed by the cells to survive. Specialized 3D bioprinters do not come cheap and they can cost between $100,000 and a million dollars depending on their specifications.
With the aim of developing an affordable 3D bioprinter, inventors Jemma Redmond and Stephen Gray combined their expertise on nano-bioscience and biochemistry to create an innovative bioprinter. The result of their hard work is the Ourobotics Revolution 3D bioprinter which is a low-cost device that can print using 10 materials in the same device. The printer also has a heated enclosure to provide ambient temperature to the growing tissue.
To date, no 3D bioprinter has the ability to print 10 materials in a single bioprinted structure. However, the inventors of this bioprinter said that they can add more materials in the future. What makes the bioprinter astounding is that it can retool itself; thus it can be used from laser and UV projectors to 3D printers. It can also handle different materials like gelatin, collagen, chitosan and alginates to name a few.
With the features of this new 3D bioprinter, you can build complicated tissues, create custom pills or combine inorganic and organic materials. This 3D printer will no longer be limited to creating prosthetics, customized medical tools as well as medical models as it can be used to print live tissues for transplant.
3D printing is becoming an important feature in the field of medical science and its wide recognition in improving medical technology made it possible for many doctors all over the world to come up with innovations in treating their patients. Speaking of innovation, the Collegiate Inventors Competition encourages students to use 3D printing in redefining the way scientists use this technology.
The recent competition was attended by 14 finalist teams from all over the United States. One of the finalists that caught the attention of the judges is the group of students from the University of Pennsylvania who created the 3D printed eyelids that are driven by small motors. This invention will be implanted on patients who are unable to blink such as those suffering from dry eye disease.
To create the synthetic eyelids, the students used plastic chips with microfluidic channels to stimulate the growth of human cells. Jeongyun Seo, one of the proponents of the study, noted that they created this technology without the need for animal or human models. For now, the proponents see the need for the blinking 3D printed human lid as an accurate model that can be used in medicine, academe and even in the cosmetic industry.
Although they did not win the competition, the team was ecstatic to receive the recognition for the first organ-on-a-chip technology that they were able to develop. This innovation created a leverage in biomicroengineering thus it is possible in the future to completely remove animals as human surrogates for clinical testing.
3D printing technology is becoming mainstream in many first world countries. Unfortunately, poor countries are not able to benefit from this innovation. 3D printing is a technology that could have benefited many patients from poor countries especially those who are in need of quality prosthetics. London-based 3D printing company 3D LifePrints was able to provide 3D prosthetics to amputee patients from poor and developing countries. It was estimated that more than 15 million amputees from the poorer regions in the planet do not have access to sufficient medical care thus, this humanitarian act provides relief for a lot of patients.
To provide many amputees with 3D prosthetics, 3D LifePrints has been relying on the generosity of a pool of medical experts, technologists, social entrepreneurs, and academic researchers to raise funds and at the same time do more research on developing better 3D prosthetics.
The 3D prosthetics provided by the company are deemed very helpful for all amputees, but there are several problems encountered by the company. To date, the main supplier of prosthetics is the International Committee of the Red Cross, but they are still expensive that even ordinary people cannot afford it. The challenge by 3D LifePrints is to make prosthetics that are cheaper, more comfortable as well as more functional than they used to be.
Making 3D prosthetics available to poor patients in the third world countries can help not only improve their lives but also uplift their morality as it gives them the chance to be able to live normal lives.
Taiwanese surgeons have been using the 3D printing technology to perform complex surgical procedures in order to reduce the surgery time as well as its risks. One of the complex surgical procedures that 3D printing technology was used on is the complex orthognathic procedure which is a corrective jaw or cheek reduction surgery.
Conventional surgery is an arduous task not only for the surgeons but also to the patients. In this case, patients who undergo facial skeletal surgery may develop skeletal or even dental irregularities. Moreover, it can also lead to permanent facial paralysis if not performed properly considering that the face has a lot of delicate nerves that can accidentally be severed during the operation. However, with the use of 3D printing technology, surgeons were able to create a model of the patient’s skull so that they have more time to assess and plan their strategies before the operation.
Surgeons Jiang Hou Ren and Xie MingJi developed a technique using 3D printing technology to create an actual model of the patient’s skull by using images obtained from CT scan and X-rays. Surprisingly, the new strategy resulted to better and faster recovery time without any risks at all. 3D printing used in cosmetic surgery can help optimize the facial features of the patients and also help doctors carry out the surgical procedure more effectively. With this technology, doctors will be able to provide better healthcare to its patients. With this procedure, doctors can also perform other surgical procedures on the face to improve the aesthetics as well as the function of the patient’s facial features.
Researches have been made on advancing the applications of 3D bioprinting. Thru this healthcare professionals are able to address complicated injuries and illnesses.
The process of 3D bioprinting is utilized to generate tissues or living cells that help sustain growth and cell function within the printed cell or tissue. Patent on bioprinting was filed last 2003 and by 2006, it was then approved. It paved the way to more researches and encouraged hospitals and other research groups to continue experimenting on this type of process. Positive feedback are being received and it is a promising method to aid in reconstructive surgery and medical testing.
3D bioprinting started in different areas, however, Baltimore Maryland is now being seen as a hub for this type of method. This is due to a breakthrough research done at Johns Hopkins University’s Grayson Lab. Apart from that, it is also in Baltimore where you can find the world’s first 3D printing lab, called BUGSS or Baltimore Underground Science Space. It was created in 2012, by and for professional, citizen and amateur scientists and artists. This lab is their space and for them to further explore as well as learn more about the biotechnology world.
The BUGSS have three 3D bioprinters. They make use of live stem cells from plants on their experiments and researches. Ryan Hoover, an artist and faculty member at the Maryland Institute College of Art is responsible for taking care of the lab and maintaining on-site bioprinters.
Hoover is also using 3D bioprinters to experiment on plant material in order to create solutions wherein plant cells are able to recognize and merge into living tissues.
The experiments and researches on bioprinting done at BUGSS are positive occurrences that will encourage forward the technological world of 3D bioprinting.
A lot of people have heart problems and there is a long list of those seeking transplant because unlike other parts of the body, tissues of the heart do not repair or regenerate on its own. Fixing heart ailments often requires surgical procedures and these surgeries are often difficult and risky.
There may be an answer to these challenges thru a process known as 3D bioprinting. This method has been advocated to remedy the need for transplanting of tissues and organs. The process on 3D bioprinting makes use of self-supporting materials for regeneration of the nerves to create a 3D heart in preparation for surgery.
In a delicate process such as 3D bioprinting, it also involves some challenges when using soft tissues since these replicated tissues are not being supported by the other layers of tissues. However, a team known as the Regenerative Biomaterials and Therapeutics Group discovered the use fibrin and collagen in bioprinting of coronary arteries and hearts. These groups are led by Adam Feinberg who is an associate professor of Carnegie Mellon University on Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering.
The team of Professor Adam Feinberg discovered the use of open-sourced software and hardware making 3D printers affordable on a consumer-level. The technique they are using requires printing a gel inside another gel. This approach is known as Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels or FRESH.
According to Feinberg, gels collapse just like any Jell-o; therefore they developed a technique of printing one gel inside of another gel to provide support. In this manner, they are able to position precisely the soft material as they undergo the process of 3D printing on a layer per layer basis.
In order to create the printed designs of the artery tissues and heart, MRI images are taken then through the 3D printer, layers of the second gel are injected inside the translucent support gel. When you submerge the support gel in a body-temperature medium like the human body, it melts but it leaves the bioprinted living cells undamaged and intact. After which, heart cells are integrated into that printed form to assist in the creation of the contractile muscle.
The creation of stem cells using 3D printers can bring a lot of changes in the world particularly in the field of medicine. One important application for stem cells is drug testing. Millions of laboratory animals will be spared if 3D printing can create stem cells.
Collaboration between the researchers from Tsinghua University in China and Drexel University in Philadelphia developed a way of growing embryonic stem cell structures. To create the stem cell structures, researchers used an extrusion technology to create grid-like structures that encourage the growth of the stem cells.
The cell structures were able to divide and organize into living tissues but the viability of the tissue is only up to a week. Researchers were astonished that the new embryonic cell structures were able to last for a week.
Liliang Ouyang, one of the proponents of the study, noted that the embryoid body is homogenous and can be a good starting point for tissue growth. While the common method of printing cells is using suspension method, it does not result to cell uniformity thus cells become viable for up to a few days.
The new method that the researchers developed is capable of becoming into different cell types of the body. The researchers are hopeful that the new technique can quickly proliferate into different embryoid bodies so that they can be used for tissue regeneration and drug testing on living tissues. For now, the researchers are finding ways on how they can change the size of the embryoid bodies so that they can create different cell types.
The 3D printing technology has proven itself a very useful innovation in the field of medical technology. In fact, this technology is no longer restricted to making medical models to help surgeons plan their operation but progress has been made such that construction of delicate tissues is now possible.
One of the most intriguing things that can be created with 3D printers is the knee cartilage. Scientists from the Texas Tech University and Texas A&M University were able to develop a way to create knee cartilage from a 3D bioprinter.
Led by Dr. Jingjin Qiu, the 3D printed cartilage can be used to repair the injured meniscus among patients suffering from arthritis and mechanical damage caused by injuries and sports. The cartilage of the knees protects the connecting bones of the legs against friction as well as absorbs shock when you engage in extreme activities. However, the cartilage can break down and become inflamed, thus patients are required to undergo surgery called meniscectomy to repair the meniscus.
To create the 3D printed meniscus, researchers used hydrogels but added a gel-like substance called alginate. The addition of the alginate to the hydrogel increases the viscosity of the bio-ink. The material also restricts the cartilage from pulling out under stress.
The problem with conventional meniscectomy is that the removal of the meniscus can result to the risk of osteoarthritis later in life. Moreover, transplanting knee cartilage from a donor can also bring up a host of complexities including rejection and biocompatibility issues. The development of the 3D printed meniscus removes all these complexities thus it can help many people suffering from a lot of knee problems.
Blessing Makwera is the Zimbabwean man who was the recipient of Operation Hope, a California organization that offers surgical care and procedures to individuals in developing nations. Makwera was only 15 years old when he figured in a tragic accident that left his upper and lower jaws severely disfigured due to an exploding land mine. Although he survived the accident, he had to live with his misshapen face for eight years before becoming the happy recipient of the Operation Hope.
Makwera needed several surgeries through the collaboration of Dr. Joel Berger who was a maxillofacial and oral specialist and 3D systems that was there to help in visually mapping out the surgical procedure via their Virtual Surgical Planning (VSP) services. The man behind 3D systems VPS services was Mike Rensberger.
Makwera needed a fibula free flap operation which comprises of taking vessels, tissues, and bone from the fibula (a bone in the lower leg), and then restructuring as well as re-configuring these to form jaw bones that are linked to the neck’s blood vessels. Rensberger commented that although they have experience dealing with the same surgery, but the time-sensitive operation was placing a huge challenge for the team. They only had four days to prepare before the surgery.
Eventually, Rensberger’s team was able to create two sets of maxillae and mandibles to be used as a time saving replica in the operating room and the other set as a reference point in the actual operation. The models helped the surgeons to familiarize themselves with the unique anatomy of the patient and fortunately for Makwera, all the needed jaw composition for the operation arrived on time. The surgery took 12 hours to perform and it was a success, thanks to the power of 3D printing.
Canadian Surgeon Dr. Ivar Mendez is the head of surgery at the University of Saskatchewan. Dr. Mendez reported that he always prepares before a brain surgery via the use of computer simulations. Given the fact that brain surgery is a very sensitive operation wherein it involves opening the skull and toe brain folds are inserted with electrodes. A miscalculation on the part of the surgeon can cause irreversible damage depending on the specific part of the brain involved. That’s why the meticulous doctor always studied the patient’s brain and the targets he needed to access.
Now, Dr. Mendez wanted to try out 3D printing the patient’s brain as a model instead of using computer simulations. It took 7-months and several experts from neuropsychologists, MRI specialists, radiologist, and engineers to create the first rubber prototype. However, Dr. Mendez was not satisfied with the model because it did not display the important and smaller features of the brain. Now, the team and Dr. Mendez have a more detailed and larger brain model wherein the Dr. Mendez can actually practice the surgery.
Dr. Mendez was more than satisfied with the brain replica because it mimics the consistency of an actual brain. He further elaborated on the possibilities of 3D printed medical innovations like the same principles can be applied on creating 3D brain models of patients with brain tumor, helping neurosurgeons to better grasp the extent of the effects of the tumor or lesion removal. And this is something that cannot be easily seen with the use of digital models.
Surgical transplantation procedures such as heart transplants can be very difficult to work with and this is the reason why patients have to join a long waitlist, along with other patients, in the hopes of getting a transplant. However, researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University want to improve the chances of getting a transplant early by developing a method for 3D bioprinting soft tissues.
Currently, the 3D printing technology uses materials like titanium and silicone to create flexible plastic models used only for surgical planning. Unfortunately, replicating soft tissues can be difficult until today. The research is led by associate professor Adam Feinberg and it aims to demonstrate a new method of creating synthetic hearts and arteries using natural materials like fibrin and collagen. With their years of extensive research, they were able to accomplish printing soft tissues using a consumer-level 3D printer.
The technique of creating soft tissues was called Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels (FRESH) which involves printing gel in gel. This allowed the researchers to position the soft materials precisely inside the gel so that they can create it layer by layer.
To create anatomically correct heart and artery tissues, researchers rely on MRI images of patients. The printer then uses a small syringe to inject the layers of the second gel inside the transparent support gel. The support gel serves as the scaffold of the soft tissues. The support gel then melts away when immersed in ambient-temperature water, thus, leaving behind the living cells intact. Now, the researchers need to perfect the next step which is to incorporate the printed tissues in vivo.
The 3D printing technology provides revolutionary roles in the fast evolving field of medical technology. China-based company, Revotek, announced their custom-made 3D bioprinter that can print real blood vessels and other multiple layers of cells. What makes this news truly revolutionary is that no other commercially available 3D bioprinters have done this before.
Yang Keng, Revotek’s chairman, noted that the company’s new 3D bioprinting system includes bio inks, medical imaging cloud platform, a 3D bioprinter, and a post processing system. With this new 3D printing system, it will now be easier to rebuild organs from scratch in the future.
The heart of this new technology is the stem cell culture system called the Biosynsphere biological bricks that are developed to create personalized cells. It contains seed cells as well as bio inks to create layered cell structures with defined physiological functions.
The new 3D printer works by alternately extruding bio inks, thus, it can create 10cm-long blood vessels under two minutes. The bio ink, on the other hand, is kept under special biological and environmental conditions so that the printer does not only make blood vessels but also various types of cells as well. But perhaps the most important component of this new 3D bioprinting system is the medical imaging cloud platform which will be available to all hospitals in China. This makes it easier for doctors and medical researchers to deal with bottleneck problems when it comes to treating different conditions using 3D bioprinted organs.
With this new revolution, 3D printing can pave the way for better medical procedures for patients who require organ transplants.
3D bioprinting has a lot of applications in the field of medicine. Innovators are making significant contributions to the development of the said technology. Aside from prosthetics, researchers can now use 3D bioprinting for stem cell research.
Researchers from the Heriot-Watt University in Scotland was the first group to 3D print stem cells using the valve-based technique. Dr. Will Shu, the lead researcher of the experiment, wants to use 3D printing technology for patient-specific drug treatments.
With the ethical issues behind animal drug testing, this technology is very beneficial to test different types of drugs. The problem with using stem cells for drug-specific treatment is that the live cultures are sensitive thus the cells may end up dying even before testing can begin. The new technique developed by the researchers may end animal testing altogether.
The team was able to print 3D printed stem cells by creating their own hardware to handle the fragile nature of the stem cells. Starting with small batches of 3D printed cells, the team was able to use the bioprinted materials to test drugs. This allowed the doctors to find out which doses provide fewer side effects but better benefits to patients. Dr. Jason King from Roslin Cellab was tapped by the researchers from Scotland to assist in developing products for the commercial stem cell sector.
With the vast horizon for 3D printing, scientists are discovering complex processes that they can utilize 3D printing to help ease different problems in the field of medical science.
3D printing provides a variety of applications for the field of medicine including cosmetic surgery. Currently, leading 3D printing technology 3D Systems partnered with a New York-based company to make cosmetic surgery experience more efficient for both client and surgeons.
Dr. Carrie Stern from the New York-based company MirrorMe3D noted that the use of 3D printing technology can help patients by creating before and after colored models of the parts that the patients need work on; for patients, seeing the before and after images provide a big relief on what they can expect for the surgical procedure. This will also help patients decide whether they will go ahead with the procedure or not.
Dr. Glenn Jelks from the NYU Medical Center acknowledges that 3D printing is indeed a game changer in the field of cosmetic surgery. Aside from the benefit it gives patients, doctors are also provided with a lot of information on how they will go about with the procedure to achieve maximum results.
The company 3D Systems is working on developing new software to help create the models for cosmetic surgery. The company is planning on using a specialized 3D printer called ProJet 660 color printer to create realistic before and after models of patients; thus patients have this weird but interesting experience of holding their new selves at the palm of their hands.
The thing is that 3D printing technology really provides insightful innovations for both patients and doctors so that they can enjoy the experience cosmetic surgery provides.
3D bioprinting is an important innovation in medical science. Through this wonderful innovation, researchers were able to make important applications. In fact, it is now possible for researchers to create organs like human ears; however this technology finds it difficult to create soft structures that have minute internal support. Unfortunately, 3D bioprinting still cannot print small structures like the veins or small organs because they have the tendency to collapse even before they can become viable.
A team of researcher from the University of Florida acknowledges this problem, thus, they developed a process that allows small structures to be printed out without even collapsing. The process involves injecting inks that are loaded with special gels that will hold the organs together.
What makes this particular 3D bioprinting innovation possible is the use of a hydrogel called Carbopol gel made from very small particles. This gel acts as both the liquid and solid scaffold that shears the stress applied directly on the structure. This property of the gel allows the printer to deposit the gel on the printing medium without disrupting or destroying the entire structure. The researchers were able to create different complex shapes using the 3D bioprinter and this hydrogel.
Thomas Angelini, researcher from the University of Florida, noted that the 3D bioprinting is no longer used to print solid organs. With the help of this new gel, it is now possible for doctors and medical researchers to create extensive microscopic soft tissues that can be used in transplanting different organs.
3D printing is widely used in the medical industry to create a wide array of innovations to help different patients suffering from various maladies. Currently, all eyes are at Croatia as researchers were able to perform a successful operation on a patient suffering from spinal tumor. It is not common to hear innovations on treating spinal maladies using 3D printing, but what makes this particular operation innovative was that it is the first one to use all 3D-printed acrylic vertebra–the first of its kind!
Doctors from the Neurosurgical Clinic in Rijeka noted that the 3D printed acrylic vertebra that was used to replace the patient’s metastasized vertebra is that it is affordable and easy to work with. His doctor noted that unlike pre-manufactured designs, the 3D printed vertebra makes the surgery convenient and the patient’s recovery faster.
Instead of using the standard material–titanium mixed with acrylic–the patient was able to afford the surgery. Moreover, the doctors were also able to conduct the operation within a short period of time. For the medical researchers to create the customized vertebra, they used the patient’s imaging tests to create a perfect replacement.
In a country like Croatia, patients cannot readily afford 3D printing technology as their best surgical option. This is the reason why they opt for conventional treatments. What makes conventional treatments challenging is that they are not always effective when it comes to treating rare and difficult conditions. With this new 3D printing innovation, patients now have access to cheap yet effective treatments.
The 3D printing technology is constantly being innovated by dedicated scientists and researchers to improve its many applications in the field of engineering, manufacturing and medicine. The research center of the National University of La Plata in Argentina, LIFIA, created a special 3D printer head that has the ability to control two syringes thus allowing medical researcher to print biopolymers with complicated geometric patterns. This new innovation won an award and received funding for further development from the Ministry of Science and Technology in Argentina.
Lead researcher, Sergio Katz, noted that the idea of developing a special printer head came from the need to design a system that can control the layering of biopolymers. With the new printer head, the biopolymers create a new hydrocolloidal matrix which makes it easier for the polymers to align. This technology, if perfected, can be used in various applications in the field of medicine and these include customized drug administration.
Currently, this printer head is able to create bioprinted patches that can be easily attached to specific organs for better drug administration. The patches can also be used in nanotechnology and biotechnology.
The new 3D printer comes with dual extruders that are attached to a motor and movable support. As the motor rotates, a contraption moves up and down in order to control the plunger of the syringe. A silicone tube is found at the end of each syringe that carries the liquid directly to the head. With this new technology, this new printer head will definitely revolutionize 3D medical printing in the future.
3D printing has become an indispensable tool in the medical industry. It has encompassed numerous applications from creating simple customized medical tools, surgical models, implants, to orthopedic casts.
This technology continues to expand as researchers develop many intriguing yet effective devices using a simple 3D printer. One such innovation introduced to the world recently was the 3D printed braces intended for patients with scoliosis.
3D Systems, the South Carolina-based company, released their prototype for back braces to correct the abnormal curvature of the spine among patients with severe scoliosis. The braces are customized to fit the shape of the patient’s body. The braces also have corrective features so that patients can be comfortable but experience improvement while wearing the braces.
This technology was adopted by Chinese medical researchers from the National Rehabilitation Aids Research in Beijing to treat patients suffering from mild to moderate scoliosis. The Chinese researchers worked with orthopedic surgeons from Germany led by Dr. Hans-Rudolf Weiss. Conventional braces are very difficult to wear as they are chunky and provide a lot of discomfort to patients. Moreover, it is also embarrassing for most people to wear conventional braces because they look like alien contraptions stuck in their bodies.
The researchers developed customizable braces that slimly fit the body of patients and it comes with a lot of patterns to improve the air flow thus decreasing discomfort and build up of heat. The new braces are made from thermoplastics thus they are very light but strong enough to support and re-align the problematic back. This innovation will surely help a lot of patients suffering from scoliosis all over the world.
The 3D printing technology provides the medical industry with viable solutions for complicated medical procedures. Today, 3D printing is no longer used in creating prosthetics but also in synthetically creating natural-occurring cells and tissues.
Fabricating cells and tissues using 3D printing technology is a complex method. However, researchers were able to create breast cancer tissues and gland tissues to study disease progression and also drug testing. The key to the success of printing cells and tissues lies on Bio-Ink which is a material that serves as the structural scaffold for the tissues.
While the current bio-ink used in 3D bioprinting is already effective, researchers want to improve this technology further. Recently, a study published in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering demonstrated the new material for bioprinting. Called Polyol-Silk Bioink, it uses silk solutions called non-toxic polyols (sugar alcohol) in creating self-curing features that allow structural support and less processing. With this new material, tissue engineering will be less complicated.
Developed by David L. Kaplan and his team of researchers from the Biomedical Engineering Department of Tufts University, the new silk biogel is clear as well as flexible. It is also stable in water and superior to other materials like gelatin, collagen, and silicone. This material can also withstand high temperature and pH changes.
This latest bio-ink provides a possible answer to solving the many challenges encountered in the bioprinting arena. With this new innovation, it is now possible for researchers to create tissues faster and more stable than conventional methods.
As 3D printing technology has gained traction in the medical field, researchers were able to use the said technology to develop groundbreaking techniques to regenerate nerves for both motor and sensory functions. Regenerating nerves is a complicated process thus people with injuries involving nerves suffer from permanent damage. With the new technique, scientists hope to help more than hundreds of thousands of patients suffering from nerve diseases.
To regenerate nerves using the 3D printing technology, researchers used 3D imaging to create custom silicone guides that are implanted with biochemical compounds to encourage regeneration of complex nerves. The silicone guides were first tested in laboratory rats and scientists were able to regenerate the Y-shaped sciatic nerve with motor and sensory branches. Within 10 to 12 weeks, the rats were able to walk again.
Professor Michael McAlpine from the Mechanical Engineering Department of the University of Minnesota noted that this technology can be used to regenerate nerve tissues among human patients in the future.
He also added that a library of scanned nerves should also be created for nerves that are unavailable for scanning. This is very important among patients whose nerves are difficult to scan due to extensive or increasing damage. With the library of scanned nerves available to the medical researchers, hospitals can create matched 3D printed guides for patients.
3D printing technology provides a lot of innovations in the field of medicine and with the newly developed technology, people suffering from nerve damage can now become hopeful that they can once again improve the quality of their lives.
Cancer research is very important in helping many people who are battling with cancer. However, the difficulty with cancer research is that it is challenging to test drugs while using live human tissues. A recent breakthrough done by the University of San Francisco had led to the development of a new technique called DNA Programmed Assembly of Cells.
Postdoctoral fellow Alex Hughes explained that the technique is all about creating biological equivalents of the LEGO bricks which can grow cells even in a simple petri dish. The 3D bioprinted cells can be used to study cancer drug screening. Medical researchers can build models of mammary glands to study the progression of cancer cells on human breasts.
Unlike organoids, the 3D bioprinted human cells can be programmed into any cell type based on the spatial and environmental cues applied on it. It can also be used to create 3D printed organs in the future. If the technique can be perfected, it can be used to create thousands of cells within hours. The team behind this innovation relies on DNA to engineer the human tissues. The 3D printing of the cells occur in layers and with each layer, it is designed to stick to its cell partners.
This is a promising technology that can pave the way for many developments in cancer research as well as synthetic organ production. Researchers hope that they can use the technology in the future to study more complex cellular structures and network in the hopes of fully understanding the human body.