In an ever changing technological world, new advances in medical science become more and more astounding every year. From new cures and treatments to developments in stem cell research, it really does make you wonder what the future will hold.
Now, researchers at the University of Tokyo Hospital are using 3D inkjet printers to ‘print’ artificial bones that can be used in facial reconstructive surgery.
Previously, 3D inkjet printers were designed as a method of ‘rapid prototyping’ for creating products in the automotive, construction and engineering industries, using computer aided design.
Now, due to recent medical advances, a patient’s bones can be reconstructed from a 3D computer model; created using X-ray’s and CT scans, which are then divided into cross sections and printed layer by layer using a 3D inkjet printer and a special type of ‘ink’.
The printer uses a water –based polymer ink adhesive, which is able to re-create the bone structure to an accuracy of one millimeter. The ‘printed’ bones are made from strong and lightweight material, that is designed to be absorbed by the patient’s body and over time is replaced by natural bone that grows into it. Researchers say that the printed bones aren’t yet strong enough to be weight bearing, but are in fact ten times stronger than currently used artificial bones.
Initial human trials were conducted in 2006 and 2007, and with further trials conducted in 2010, researchers hope to make the technology commercially available soon.
(Chemical daily via the Pinktentacle)