Become partially android for a couple of years while your body heals itself.
It may sound far-fetched, but for patients needing reconstructive surgery, this could soon be the pitch from Danish startup Particle3D. The company is pioneering a novel method for 3D printing lightweight, customized bone implants that fuse with your skeleton before slowly disappearing.
The technology carries a lower risk of infection and the implants are tailored to your body (and the method could soon be heading to space with astronauts!).
Customized “Bio-Ink” Creates Porous Possibilities
Traditional implants generally consist of non-degradable materials such as polymer or titanium. Particle3D uses a “bio-ink” made from tricalcium phosphate (TCP) powder particles and fatty acids. TCP been used in reconstructive surgery for decades, but is normally manually sculpted by surgeons from solid blocks into the desired implant shape. This approach can limit the potential positive effects of TCP, for example, when it comes to stimulating natural bone growth.
Particle3D’s process most often starts with scans of a patient’s bones or the area where the implant will be placed. The data is fed into a computer program, which allows surgeons and staff to optimize the implant design using CAD computer models. A customized implant is then printed by Particle3D and sent to a hospital for insertion.
3D printing TCP enables the company to create more porous implants. The porous structures allow the implants to function as scaffolds for blood vessels and natural bone to grow, and the implants degrade over time as they are supplanted by natural bone. Trials on pigs and mice have shown new bone marrow and blood vessels developing in the implants after as little as eight weeks.
3D Printing and Healthcare
Early use cases from 3D printing in healthcare included printing 3D models of bones, body parts, and organs ahead of surgeries, allowing surgeons to better visualize and practice ahead of operations. It has gradually moved into printing tools and solutions like medicine and bone implants. Soon we may see 3D printed body parts.
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