A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and the University of Connecticut (UConn) has 3D printed novel calcium phosphate graphene (CaPG) scaffolds that could be used for bone regeneration applications in the future.
The team sought to develop an alternative to traditional autogenous bone grafts that simply stabilize bone defects and injuries. The study saw the successful fabrication of a 3D bioprinted alternative that supports tissue regeneration at the defect site, and which possesses numerous desirable properties such as osteoinductivity, biological safety, a long shelf-life, and reasonable production costs.
Challenges of 3D printing graphene
While graphene’s lightweight properties, electrical and thermal conductivity, and mechanical strength make it a desirable material for applications within biomedicine, energy generation, and microelectronics, much of graphene’s potential comes from deploying the material in its monolayer form. This therefore presents a significant challenge when trying to utilize the material for 3D printing.
Despite this, progress has been made to harness the material’s potential for additive manufacturing in recent years. For instance, Virginia Tech and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have developed a high-resolution 3D printing method that involves the dispersal of graphene within a gel to form a 3D printable resin, and the latter has also worked with the University of California Santa Cruz to produce graphene-based aerogel electrodes for energy storage devices.
Elsewhere, graphene-oxide scaffolds that retain many of the monolayer material’s sought-after properties have been successfully 3D printed by Spain’s Institute of Ceramics and Glass and Aix-Marseille University, and University at Buffalo researchers have developed a 3D printed water-purifying aerogel that could be used within wastewater treatment plants.
Most recently, researchers from the Harbin Institute of Technology 3D printed a graphene-oxide soft robot capable of moving backward and forward on its own when exposed to moisture.
Image Credit: Nature