3D medical printing is not only used to create medical innovations that are externally applied. Professors from the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering at ETH Zurich have been working on creating microscopic robots that can swim in the bloodstream of patients and work as cargo transporters.
Led by Professor Bradley Nelson, a specialist in robotics and intelligent systems, the researchers created robots that can very well lead to many medical innovations such as targeted drug delivery, remote sensing, single cell manipulation and minimally invasive surgery.
To create these tiny robots, the researchers used a specialized 3D medical printing machine to insert magnetic nanoparticles in an epoxy resin. The printer is also capable of curing and building the robots to produce the impressive helical structures that measure 9 micrometers in diameter and 60 micrometers in length. The design mimicked the DNA structure so that it can easily swim within the body’s plasma. Since this device is a robot, they can also be digitally maneuvered as they also come with sensors.
To make the body accept these nanorobots and avoid the body’s defense system from attacking this foreign object, the nanorobots are coated with a biochemical film to make the body detect that it is a normal cell.
With this technology, scientists are hopeful about the myriads of possibilities that this robot can do. Aside from delivering medications from inside the body, these robots can also be equipped with sensors thus patients who are injected with these robots can easily be monitored for their vital signs.