Technology Tuesday: Printing Bones in 3-D

Need a new tooth? Or how about a framework to grow new bone? Washington State University researchers have created a bone-like material using 3-D printers. The 3-D printer has been used in “orthopedic procedures, dental work, and to deliver medicine for treating osteoporosis.” The material acts as a framework for the new bone to grow around.

The main material is calcium phosphate, which is termed as one of the main mineral compounds in the human body. Calcium phosphate is used to repair bones, improve circulation, and for tissue respiration.

The issue with bone repair and growth has been known for ages. Recently a solution has been found. With the help of 3-D printers, crafting a structure to an individual’s bone is possible. The 3-D printer is similar to the process of an inkjet printer. The 3-D “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.”

It will be interesting to see where 3-D printing will be used next to make life easier. For the topic of bone growth and repair, surgions no longer have to reconstruct the bone by hand.

There’s another Technology Tuesday relating a variety of engineering fields with the medical industry. What industries do you think will utilize the use of 3-D printers? For more details on 3-D bone printing, you can read the full article online at Digital Journal. Op-Ed: Printing bones in 3D- New synthetic bone scaffolding concept.

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