OrthoBuzz has reported previously on the 3D printing of implantable skeletal structures (click here for an example), but the materials used were metallic. Now, two new accomplishments with 3D printing have produced material that mimics the physiochemical properties and porous structure of real bone.
First, students from California State University in Long Beach created the LuxNova OsBot 3D printer. The students say that the OsBot can replicate the unique and complex structure of human bone tissue down to the micro and nano levels.
Meanwhile, in China, the Xi’an Particle Cloud Advanced Materials Technology Co. has wrapped up animal testing on a similar bioprinting device and is poised to enter human trials. The device uses both UV light and heat to “laminate” binder material until a bonelike structure is fabricated. In rabbits, the 3D-printed bone exhibited new bone-cell activity on its surface almost immediately after implantation.
Theoretically, surgeons could use 3D-printed bone grafts to replace cancerous or severely traumatized bone tissue, obviating the need for amputation or cadaver grafts.