Health Printing bones to order

Printing bones to order

Australian scientists have been boning up on how to print bone-like structures using a 3D-printer and they’ve found a way to do it, for the first time, at room temperature with living cells.

It means that 3D printers may one day become a permanent fixture in operating theatres.

Researchers from UNSW Sydney have developed a ceramic-based ink that may allow surgeons in the future to print bone parts complete with living cells that could be used to repair damaged bone tissue.

Using a 3D-printer that deploys the special ink made up of calcium phosphate, the scientists developed a new technique, known as ceramic omnidirectional bioprinting in cell-suspensions (COBICS), enabling them to print bone-like structures that harden in a matter of minutes when placed in water.

Dr Iman Roohani from UNSW’s School of Chemistry says that, while the idea of 3D-printing bone-mimicking structures is not new, this is the first time such material can be created at room temperature – complete with living cells – and without harsh chemicals or radiation.

“This is a unique technology that can produce structures that closely mimic bone tissue,” Dr Roohani said.

“It could be used in clinical applications where there is a large demand for in-situ repair of bone defects such as those caused by trauma, cancer, or where a big chunk of tissue is resected.”

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