3D Printing Mimics Real Bone
The University of British Columbia (UBC) Okanagan, Department of Engineering, through the efforts of a brilliant research assistant, Hossein Montazerian, is modeling and creating artificial bone grafts via 3D printing. He hopes that where artificial bone replacements are concerned, 3D printed grafts will answer the unmet needs of complex bone grafting in surgery.
While human bone is resilient, injured or fractured bone will need replacement, sometimes multiple surgeries and painful recoveries. To replace a fracture, surgeons may have to take a patient’s normal bone and transfer it to the injured part using conventional bone grafts. By using the patient’s own bone fragments, they mix and integrate well with the patient’s fractured bone and associated connective tissue.
Montazerian’s new design for artificial bones ensures that 3D printed bone parts have the same unique porosity of bone, the same permeability and elasticity. Although artificial, the parts are made stronger, safer and functionally effective. This means that parts can be customized to fit a patient’s particular situation, the surgeon will not need to transplant bone, effectively decreasing operation time and is less traumatic for the patient.
Montazerian analyzed 240 different bone graft designs, 3D printing the top performing ones using the powder-based method of printing. He also utilized numerical procedures to determine the best pore characteristics for normal bone stiffness, strength, and permeability.
The grafts were made of calcium sulfate scaffolds using TPMS-based unit cells, or Triply Periodic Minimal Surfaces that are present in natural shapes and structures. He focused on those that make strong and porous bones and subject them to mechanical and compression tests.
The aim of this type of regenerative medicine is to replace missing or damaged bone tissue with 3D printed synthetic grafts with their interconnected scaffolds to allow adhesion, growth, and proliferation of the human bone cells. Montazerian said that the ultimate goal is to produce a replacement that almost perfectly mimics real bone.
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At 3D Composites, your 3D printing company in Seattle, we also do designs that transform into medical wonders. If you have an idea to help advance the cause of medical breakthroughs, talk to us about it.