While there is not much of a dramatic improvement or life-altering change for home and office printers during the last 3 decades, this is in contrast to what has been happening in the world of 3D printing services. This aspect of 3-dimensional printing has taken on a different route instead.
Otherwise known as the additive manufacturing method due to its progressive layer-by-layer approach in printing your subject material, much innovation has been made about it in the last 2 decades.
Consequently, the positive changes that it had and all its recent breakthroughs perked up the interest of industry leaders from various fields. They saw their potential benefit and all. Thus, they can use those in advancing their cause.
Come the year 2000s, 3D printing technology entered the medical world. This came to happen by virtue of 3-dimensional printing devices, such as the ones intended for surgical instruments and prosthetics.
As of this writing, both the medical space and the scientific community are testing out various kinds of bio-inks. This is in the hope of uncovering a breakthrough technique that can be utilized for printing human vital organs, cartilage, and bones.
Regenerative Structure to Promote Long-Term Healing of Bones
UK’s Swansea University developed a bioprinting process that can create an artificial bone matrix. It is made from durable and long-lasting regenerative material.
Right now, the treatment options we have for complex bone fractures will involve a surgical procedure known as bone grafting. This process will replace damaged or missing bones with cement-based materials.
However, there is a handful of limiting factors to this kind of treatment. One, there is the risk of inappropriate mechanical integrity and, two, it does not allow the growth of new bone tissues.
Bioprinting here is more advantageous in the sense that you can opt to print them in the exact structure using regenerative biomaterial.
Such materials are usually made from collagen alginate, agarose, gelatine, polycaprolactone, and calcium phosphate. Over time, the bioprinted bones can fuse themselves with the natural bone of the patient.
Functionality Challenge for a Beating Heart
A fully vascularised heart was successfully 3D printed by the American Friends of Tel Aviv University. This group of scientists made use of the fat tissue cells of a donor.
The fat cells needed to undergo partial culturing, reprogramming them in the process into heart cells. The 3D-printed heart came fully equipped with all the necessary ventricles, chambers, blood vessels, and cells. The said bionic heart was created based upon the medical images produced out of the donor patient’s own heart.
As of this writing, this technology remains at its inception phase. The heart, which the said researchers have successfully 3D printed is comparable to the size of a rabbit’s heart, is not capable of pumping any blood.
Team leaders of the said research group are looking forward to testing out their printed hearts. They intend to do it first in animals as their subject. But this may happen only if they figured out how to rescale the human organs and get them to beat.
Better Alternative to Skin Grafting for Burn Patients
When it comes to addressing severe burns, our recourse is skin grafting. What the medical professionals do here is harvest the patient’s healthy skin. They perform this in that part of the body that is not burnt.
However, in some cases, there is not enough healthy skin anymore left on the patient’s body to use.
A scanner may be taken advantage of to gauge the depth and the size of the wound. The role of the 3D printing machine here is to take in the said information and print the hypodermic, epidermic, and dermic skin cells at the corresponding depths. This will help in giving the wound good coverage.
While the trial phase for this technology is taking on a forward direction, members of the said research team are holding their optimism high. They’re looking forward to having placentas and amniotic fluid as effective skin to patients. They believe in their potential in aiding severe skin burn patients to heal from their wounds.