We have seen some pretty cool pairs of 3D printed shoes just earlier this morning, and here we are with more news on what a 3D printer is capable of – researchers who hail from the University of Pennsylvania and MIT have managed to achieve the triumph of printing 3D filament networks which might serve the role of blood vessels sometime down the road. This is made possible thanks to the implementation of open source RepRap 3D printer alongside a bunch of their own changes, where among them include a customized extruder and control software.
Basically, the research team focused on the vasculature first and designed free-standing 3D filament networks in the shape of a vascular system which remained within a mold. Similar in nature to lost-wax casting, this technique allowed the research team to create the mold and vascular template, removing those as cells were added, resulting in a solid tissue enveloping the filaments as the end result. The entire process is said to be quick and inexpensive, paving the way for researchers to alternate with ease between computer simulations and physical models of multiple vascular configurations.