3D Printed Bone Grafts

3D-Printed Bone Grafts: The Future of Fracture

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.

No Bone of Contention in Seattle

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.

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By 2023: 3D Printing Market is Worth $32.78B

REPORT: US Leads the 3D Printing Market

MarketsandMarkets, a global market research and consulting company (based India) released a news article, distributed by SBWIRE to Seattle, Washington, that reports about the global forecasted growth of the 3D printing market six years from now. A staggering $32.78 billion is what the market is going to be worth in 2023, a CAGR of 25.76% between 2017 and 2023.

What drives this growth? The report says that the main factors are the ease of development of customized products, ability to reduce overall manufacturing costs, and government investments in 3D printing projects. The report includes data and figures of the market subdivided in segments – by Offering (Printer, Material, Software, Service), Process (Binder Jetting, Direct Energy Deposition, Material Extrusion, Material Jetting, Powder Bed Fusion), Application, Vertical, and Geography.

Let’s start with printers. Desktop printers are expected to grow at a higher CAGR between 2017 and 2023. A lot of hobbyists and professionals use desktop printers owing to their affordable cost, availability, wide range of possibilities to innovate and customize, and introduction of newer materials.

Of all the printing materials, plastics and metal make up the largest and second largest share of materials used for 3D printing in 2016. They are still expected to lead the materials segment into the future. However, there are segments expected to grow bigger. Biomaterials used in the healthcare vertical are increasing in demand, and certain specialized materials (such as laywood, wax, paper) in emerging applications. New verticals are also on the rise – electronics, biomedical, pharmaceuticals, and construction – and with that are their own printing materials.

Speaking of verticals, aerospace and defense were leading in 2016. Other emerging verticals expected to grow tremendously are food and culinary, printed electronics, education, and energy.
By geography, North America leads, in particular is the US. That’s because North America leads the demand from aerospace and defense, healthcare, education, and consumer products.

Also, strong government support and presence of key manufacturers add to the growth. And who are the key players? Top five are: Stratasys Ltd. (US), 3D Systems Corporation (US), EOS GmbH (Germany), Materialise NV (Belgium), and SLM Solutions Group AG (Germany).

A Slice of the US Pie in Seattle

With our range of 3D printers, new printing materials, the top markets we service, and our technical expertise and long experience speak of the prestige and respect we enjoy in this part of Seattle. If you have a 3D printing idea, let’s talk about it.

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Revolutionizing Cardiology via 3D Printing in Seattle

The Heart of the Matter

A biomedical engineer, stem cell engineers, clinical cardiologists, and some 3D printing experts came together to successfully come up with a high-tech solution that could revolutionize cardiology.

Bear in mind that as hundreds of thousands of Americans suffer or die from myocardial infarction, doctors continue to resort to modern advances in pharmaceuticals and technology to find better cures for MI and other life-threatening cardiac conditions. The problem, really, is that heart muscle damaged by a cardiac event will develop scar tissue at the site, reducing heart function to a significant degree.

This is not about specific medications, or catheters or stents or other known interventions that can improve survival rates or save a patient’s life. With the exception of a heart transplant, there may not be any other long-term solution to damaged heart muscle. So comes in our team of researchers aiming to mend broken hearts by means of a special 3D printed scaffold – a stem cell-derived cardiac muscle patch.

From the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, the team used stem cells derived cardiac muscle and actually mixed those with other cell types needed for blood vessels. This will block the formation of fibroblasts, which produce the scar tissue. They created the patch, a biocomplex of printed layers, and tried it on cardiac arrest-induced mice. This was a comparative study using 2 groups of rodents, half were given the cell mix patch and the other half, cell-free patches.

Significant improvements were seen in the functional capacity of the rodent hearts with crell mix patches after just four weeks. It showed marked reduction in adverse remodeling of damaged heart tissue and preservation of cardiac performance. Measurements of cardiac function, infarct size, apoptosis (or cell death), both vascular and arteriole density, and cell proliferation at week 4 after treatment were significantly better. Continuous electric signal generated across the patch, and then paced, increased the frequency of the heart beats.

This in effect strengthens heart muscle allowing better circulation and more efficient distribution of nutrients to the injured heart areas. By and large the research outcomes looked very promising though more studies are needed to be conclusive about this direction.

3D Printing in Seattle: Influx into Living Tissue

The above research outcome is the result of tissue engineering brought about by amazing 3D printing. Know more how 3D printing can change the outlook of cardiac health and other many bio-engineered fields that can benefit from 3D printing. Visit us in Seattle now.


Living Archeology by 3D Printing

An Ancient Heritage Coming Back to Life

Archaeological pieces mesmerize and hold their own magic and particularly so if they are associated with a crucial point in history of certain cultures or peoples. Hence, finding them creates a frenzy in the archaeological world; to be able to see them, to touch and study them are gratifying for scholars, collectors or plain enthusiasts. But there are limits to what one can feasibly do with great finds, especially those of great rarity. Such as, the potential risk of destroying the piece.

One such object of value is the now renown Rider of Unlingen. It is a figure of a man on horseback, all bronze, sitting astride a double horse with broken legs, indicating that it must have been part of a larger base. The figure was first discovered by an Austrian miner in the 19th century in a prehistoric cemetery of a thousand burial sites.

Believed to contain the remains of people who lived and died in this area of Hallstatt, Austria, between 800 and 500 BCE, many of the sites and others nearby have already been looted. Why and how the civilization abruptly ended are not known, but the striking thing is that representations of human figures during this period is extremely unusual. Hence, the Rider of Unlingen is a very rare find.

The object is one of the oldest representations of a mounted rider from north of the Alps and as such vital to understanding the area’s cultural history. Naturally, its examination and study, handling and transport are strictly limited. Due to the risk of damage, direct access to it is downsized, exhibits and expositions for it are well monitored. Creating replicas out of molds add to the risks as well.

Now 3D printing has changed the course of the rare Rider of Unlingen. With the use of x-ray computer tomography or CT scan, a 3D digital model was created then evaluated using VGSTUDIO MAX 3.0 software. The resulting STL file was then ready for 3D printing, significantly allowing more people to access the object and greatly reducing reproduction cost. 3D printing made possible that this rare artifact be displayed in two different museums.

The resultant 3D-printed replica had a very high level of detail and precision, life-like and true to the original without the feeling of plastic. It can hence be examined in detail more often by more handlers, making further research possible. It is just amazing how an object of rarity, born out of the 7th century, be reproduced by 21st century powder.

Preserving Archeology in Seattle

See how great pieces of history and cultures gone by are replicated via the wonders of 3D printing. If you are such a fan of great historical artifacts, you can have a room full of it by 3D printing your favorites at your 3D printing company in Seattle. Talk to us about it.

3D Printing the World’s Strongest Material

The Amazing Graphene

See this thin, single layer of tightly packed carbon atoms bonded together in a hexagonal form, looking like a slice of honeycomb lattice? It’s called graphene. It is the thinnest, lightest, yet strongest material known to man, even 100 to 300 times stronger than steel.

It is the best conductor of heat at room temperature and the best conductor of electricity. Carbon, being the second most abundant mass in the human body and the 4th most abundant element in the universe, therefore, makes graphene a totally ecologically-friendly and bio-sustainable material that bears almost a limitless number of applications.

And so how is graphene used? It has made huge gains in the electronics and biotechnology industries, in a restricted sense, though. That is because to produce high quality graphene entails a very expensive and complicated process, using very toxic materials at high temperatures. To grow graphene layers, referred to as graphite, was difficult. On a large scale, it was impossible. Separating the graphene layers from its metallic substrate can potentially damage the graphene itself. So it limited its electronic applications.

Studies, however, pushed the possibility of safer molecular electronics by more effective separations. Yet, the quality of the graphene is still the limiting factor in technological applications. Supercapacitors, which are high-capacity energy storage solutions, are the best applications of graphene so far.

That may change soon. Graphene has been creating a buzz in the 3D industry. Researchers at Rice University and Tianjin University have broken ground by 3D printing atomically thin graphene in ultra-small pieces. There is the potential to bulk produce graphene in amounts useful for industrial applications.

The process uses nickel and powdered sugar and adapting a laser-based 3D printing technique create small blocks of graphene foam. The process did not use molds nor high temperatures. The graphene foams produced were lightweight and low density with large pores that make up 99 percent of its volume.

3D Printed Graphene Applications

3D-printed graphene foams show promise for various applications. It can mega-speed up web uploads; It can all charge up a cellphone in 5 minutes and potentially can clump together radioactive waste to make disposal easier. Graphene filters can make salt water safe for consumption as its holes are big enough for water to pass through, yet small enough to catch salt. It can make touchscreens unbreakable as a conductor in plastics rather than glass. High-power graphene supercapacitors would make batteries obsolete. Finally, it can be incorporated in bionic devices in neurologic living tissues.

Have an idea? 3D Composites can make it happen!

Know more about the world’s strongest material that can be 3D printed over at our 3D printing company in Seattle. If you’ve got an idea, tell us about it. It might be the next best thing to buzz about.