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Bones from a 3D printer

In a new laboratory at the Vienna University of Technology (TU) in Austria, scientists and private companies intend to work together to investigate how bones could be produced using 3D printers. The goal is to create customized bone implants that can be used, for example, for treatment after accidents.

Bones from a 3D printer

The project focuses on finding materials that are suitable for this goal. The scientists intend to apply advanced imaging techniques to precisely measure damaged bone fragments and then to use a 3D printer to create a bone matrix that precisely matches the original structure. During surgery, this part can be bonded to the natural bone, then populated by the body’s own cells and converted into normal bone.

From the point of view of materials science, this is a major challenge, the scientists emphasize. The structure of the artificial bone matrix must be porous to allow it to be penetrated by the body cells that build bone and to ensure that the transport of substances functions correctly. In addition, it has to be solid, but not too brittle in order to prevent the risk of fracturing, and it must contain calcium phosphate particles that can be converted into bone. Finally, the body has to be able to degrade the material in a reasonable amount of time, while the material also has to be suitable for 3D printing.

“We already know a great deal about the chemistry of the individual components required to fulfill all these requirements,” explained Stefan Baudis from the Technical University of Vienna, who is in charge of the new “Christian Doppler Laboratory for Advanced Polymers for Biomaterials and 3D Printing”. Now the scientists intend to research suitable material mixtures that can meet all these criteria. In addition, the researchers also aim to enhance the 3D printing processes themselves.

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Written by SDA / APA
Photos by Keystone

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