Mar 03, 2017

3D Printed Bones


Synthetic bones promote natural bone regeneration after being implanted into animals.

Ramille Shah at Northwest University in Evanston, Illinois, and her colleagues used a 3D printer to generate hyperelastic bone’. The main component of the material was hydroxyapatite - a calcium mineral similar to one found in bone - which was mixed with one of two polymers used in medicine and tissue engineering. Grafts built with the material (Fig.1) and implemented into mice, rats and one macaque became integrated into tissue and stimulated bone growth without adverse effects. Moreover, a 3D-printed bone’ shaped like a section of human femur was able to withstand loads similar to those experienced naturally. 

 Fig.1 | Close-up photograph of a small region of the first several layers of a 3-D printed hyper-elastic bone sheet. Each fiber is approximately 200 micrometers in diameter. (Credit: Adam E. Jakus, Northwestern University, Evanston).

The material can be rapidly printed into a variety of shapes (Fig.2) and is easy to use in surgery. 

Fig.2 | A cross-section of a 3-D printed adult human femur (Credit: Adam E. Jakus, Northwestern University, Evanston).