Biology & engineering combined….the new wave of 3D printing

 

A 3D printing technique developed by scientists at the heriot-watt university in edinburgh produces clusters of human embryonic stem cells – a breakthrough which could pave the way to purpose-built replacement organs for patients, eliminating the need for organ donation, immune suppression and the problem of transplant rejection. the technique will enable more accurate human tissue models to be created – which are essential for drug development and toxicity-testing.

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Is This 3-D Printed Cast the Future of Healing Broken Bones?

If you’ve ever had a broken limb, you know how unpleasant a cast can be. They’re bulky, uncomfortable and are basically a blank canvas for embarrassing sketches from your friends. But the plaster and fiberglass variety is also cheap and, frankly, good enough to not prompt much investment in innovation.

3D cast

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Evill figured there had to be a better solution (there wasn’t). So the young designer set about creating his own. Called the Cortex cast, Evill’s new take on the plaster cast is a 3D-printed brace that follows the contours of the arm. Though still just a concept, Evill’s Cortex will be an injury-localized exoskeleton that is lightweight, washable, ventilated and recyclable. Not bad for a school project.

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Scientists over at Princeton university have combined electronics with biology to create a 3D printed bionic ear. the artificial organ is a result of the team’s exploration into using the prototyping technique to print out cells and nano particles. purchasing a basic 3D printer online, the researchers, lead by michael alpine, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, used the additive technology–which allowed them to render the complex topology of the ear–to layer a matrix of hydrogel and calf cells (which eventually develop into cartilage) to build up the form; along with silver nanoparticles to form an antenna. the thin sensory appendage is coiled within the tissue-like structure, with two wires leading from the base of the ear, wrapping around a helical cochlea that ultimately connects to electrodes. it is the team’s first attempt at developing a fully functioning organ, and the intended use of the resulting organ could be used much like a hearing aid, to restore or advance human hearing.

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3D ear

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Using 3-D printing tools, scientists at Princeton University have created a functional ear that can “hear” radio frequencies far beyond the range of normal human capability.

The researchers’ primary purpose was to explore an efficient and versatile method of merging electronics with tissue. The scientists used 3-D printing of cells and nanoparticles  — with an off-the-shelf printer purchased off the Internet — followed by cell culture to combine a small coil antenna with cartilage, creating what they term a bionic ear.

“In general, there are mechanical and thermal challenges with interfacing electronic materials with biological materials,” said Michael McAlpine, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton and the project’s lead researcher. “Previously, researchers have suggested some strategies to tailor the electronics so that this merger is less awkward. That typically happens between a 2-D sheet of electronics and a surface of the tissue. However, our work suggests a new approach — to build and grow the biology up with the electronics synergistically and in a 3-D interwoven format.”

 

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