Looking Through 3D Printed Eyes in Seattle

Helping The Sightless To See Without Eyes

3D bioprinting has made inroads into the varied fields of medicine providing solutions previously thought unfathomable. 3D bioprinting enables printing of cell patterns complete with the key architectural and compositional elements of a target tissue. The eyes, for example. But here, we don’t mean recreating the highly complex structure and functionality of vision of the eyes, rather, its mere form and esthetic, giving ‘sight’ where there is none. Such as in the conditions Microphthalmia and Anophthalmia.

Microphthalmia

Microphthalmia is an abnormal birth defect of infants born with very small or underdeveloped eyeballs. If the eyeballs are totally missing, the case is called anophthalmia. Both conditions can occur in one or both eyes and affect more than 10% of blind children globally. That’s as many as 30 in 100,000 children.

In the Netherlands, with the help of 3D technology, a team of of eye specialists and eye-care providers came together for a small study of 5 children to create artificial eye structures, called conformers. These are sculpted eyes, not to enable the blind child to see, but to provide that vital support of the eye sockets. Conformers are clear plastic shells fitted to hold the shape of the eye socket and allow the eyelids to blink over the shell without rubbing on the suture line.

Experts say that if the eyeballs are underdeveloped or missing, the sockets will not be stimulated to grow and the face and areas around the eyes cannot expand to their natural contour. Restoration of facial symmetry is the goal of conformers. But the making and fitting of such a prosthesis is a laborious process, requiring a lot of guess work, trials and fittings that take time and resources. It is particularly difficult with infants whose head sizes grow rapidly.

The Netherlands team made MRI scans of 3-month old babies, determined the extent of the malformation, eye socket size and depth, and devised an eye growth chart over the next 10 years of development. 3D printing then created customized conformers in a vast array of sizes matching the prediction of the growth charts. They are printed quickly, cheaply and in a range of sizes varying by less than a millimeter in diameter. It is individualized treatment. While only five patients have been treated, there’s a need to see the results of a larger group.

Providing Medical Solutions via 3D Printing

Find out from your 3D printing company in Seattle how we can be of help for a medical condition. If a bright idea comes to mind, we might just make it happen.

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How 3D Printing Helps in Education

Planting Seeds of Wonder and Creativeness in School

You might say that 3D printed products can also help in the field of education but is it not just a matter of show-and-tell. 3D printing can help students and teachers alike in closing the gap between imagination and the real thing. In their hands, the object of concern is handled, inspected, analyzed or manipulated in the interest of learning and know-how. It becomes real learning as students develop world skills helped by resources that inspire and support ideas. Imagine what a student can make of himself or herself being able to dream and create.

What type of students benefit from the wonders of 3D printing and how does it affect their level of learning? For our youngest set of school learners it is the engagement of students with their subject, especially if a project-based strategic learning approach is used, that pricks their imagination and sustains their interest. For those in middle school, exposure to 3D printing develops problem-solving skills necessary to face more challenging work after graduation. Critical and analytical skills will thus be enhanced.

Those in technical schools can look forward to a bright future in manufacturing which is a globally important arena for talents. Various fields in manufacturing are in need of great minds to further their industries. Advances in cutting edge technology offered by 3D printing prepare colleges and universities for the challenges of a highly technical world in the immediate future. 3D printers enable students to gain critical academic experience, create cross-departmental collaboration and foster student entrepreneurship.

Bridging the Gap Between Raw and Real

3D printing experience can enable engineering and architectural students to print prototypes and 3D models. Graphic design students can print versions of their artwork. Historical artifacts for examination can help history classes, while printed topography, demographic, or population maps can aid geography. 3D models of molecules and compounds are essential tools for those who do chemistry and print out of cells, organs and biological artifacts are helpful for those in biology. Finally, in the field of research, 3D printing can expand research efforts by creating vivid prototypes to better illustrate ideas.

Become one of our many satisfied customers at 3D Composites. If you are a student with a bright idea, learn more from us and we might just turn it into something awesome.

skin cells

Bio-Printed New Skin: More than Skin-Deep

The Bio-Printer and the Bioprinted Skin

Half a world away in Spain, a new bio-printer claims to be able to make new skin. A team of experts at the Carlos III University of Madrid came out with a machine reportedly capable of 3D-printing sheets of functional human skin for use in research or even for transplants. If it breaks through, it can make possible skin grafting using a patient’s own skin obsolete.

The new 3D printer, or aptly bioprinter, uses bio-inks made up of skin cells, plasma, proteins, and other biological components known to exist in human skin, as fibroblasts and keratinocytes. By the principle of additive manufacturing, the computer will selectively and precisely deposit layers of biolinks on the print bed. Critical to the system is how to mix the components under certain conditions and the precise depositing to prevent deterioration of the cells.

The final product produced should consists of what natural skin is – outer layer called the epidermis and the deeper, thicker layer called the dermis, which contains collagen-producing fibroblast.

For purposes of research, as in the field of pharmaceuticals or of cosmetics, the bioprinted skin can be derived from any human skin cells, such as those obtained from skin biopsies . But if it is for therapeutic treatment, as in transplants, burns, and other forms of skin injury, the patient’s own skin cells are required. It takes approximately 2 weeks to grow new skin in the laboratory, and a day or two to print them.

Research facilities in other countries have also manufactured their own bioprinting machines and printed skin derived from patient’s own skin cells. One such facility is based in the University of Toronto and their reports were released in 2014.

These results demonstrate that 3D bioprinting is a suitable technology to generate bioengineered skin for therapeutical and industrial applications in an automatized manner.

Bioprinting Skin Not Too Far Off in Seattle

While bioprinted skin is still in its research stage, your 3D printing company in Seattle, 3D Composites, has its own contributions to medical science and therapeutics. Ask us about your ideas.

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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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