It looks like bone. It feels like bone. For the most part, it acts like bone.
And it came off an inkjet printer.
Washington State University researchers have 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.
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, said Susmita Bose, co-author and 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 said.