The 3D printer may soon be one of the most invaluable machines in the surgical theater. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine have collaborated to create a new technique for repairing damaged bone and tissue. Using a 3D printer they produced a kind of microscopic biodegradable scaffold of an iron and manganese alloy to foster new bone and tissue growth.
Remarkably, a 3D printer is being used to generate print using an alloy, which is customized to remain openly porous, allowing new cell growth to occur within the framework of the scaffold. In addition to printing the iron-manganese scaffold structure, a 3D printer is also used to print scaffolds which promote the formation of cells called pre-osteoblasts. Pre-osteoblasts are the precursors to osteoblasts, the single-nucleus cells that synthesize bone; that is, they are the basis for bone growth and development.
The research team, Prashant Kumta, Howard Kuhn, and Patrick Cantini concluded that the iron-manganese alloy scaffold is superior to that of an exclusively iron one as it approximates the “tensile mechanical properties” of natural bone. When the scaffold is applied to the bone in need of repair, the pre-osteoblasts infiltrate the pores in the structure and work within the bone, thus comprising this groundbreaking reconstruction process. As the healing proceeds, the scaffold is designed to degrade and the iron and manganese contribute to the rebuilding, supplying critical minerals.
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! We also offer the LulzBot TAZ – Open source 3D Printer and the Printrbot Simple Metal 3D Printer in our store. If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!