Thursday, December 1, 2011


Method of 'printing' bones using an inkjet machine developed by scientists (probably skeleton staff)
Last updated at 8:57 AM on 1st December 2011
Thought your inkjet was for printing off a new CV or a photograph? Think again, because researchers have found a way of using the machines to ‘print’ bones.

Scientists from Washington State University used a 3D printer to create a bone-like material and structure that can be used in orthopedic procedures, dental work, and to deliver medicine for treating osteoporosis.

Paired with actual bone, it acts as a scaffold for new bone to grow on and ultimately dissolves with no apparent ill effects.


Bone of contention? Researchers have found a way of 'printing' bones using a modified 3D inkjet

The authors report on successful in vitro tests in the journal Dental Materials and say they're already seeing promising results with in vivo tests on rats and rabbits.

It's possible that doctors will be able to custom order replacement bone tissue in a few years, says Susmita Bose, co-author and a professor in WSU's School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

‘If a doctor has a CT scan of a defect, we can convert it to a CAD file and make the scaffold according to the defect,’ Bose says.

Convenience: Researchers say that doctors will be able to pre-order specific bone tissues in the future

A main finding of the paper is that the addition of silicon and zinc more than doubled the strength of the main material, calcium phosphate.

The researchers also spent a year optimising a commercially available ProMetal 3D printer designed to make metal objects.

The printer works by having an inkjet spray a plastic binder over a bed of powder in layers of 20 microns, about half the width of a human hair.

Following a computer's directions, it creates a channeled cylinder the size of a pencil eraser.

After just a week in a medium with immature human bone cells, the scaffold was supporting a network of new bone cells.

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