The concept of 3D printing body parts, like a titanium hip replacement, aren’t new. However, the problem with 3D printing bone is that it usually involves synthetic components which means that you’re essentially introducing something foreign into your body. However, researchers at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, have figured out a new way.
They have developed a ceramic ink that can be 3D printed at room temperature using live cells and without the need for harsh chemicals. The idea is that this method could one day potentially allow researchers to potentially 3D print bone directly into the patient’s body.
Right now, one of the methods of repairing damaged bone is known as autologous bone grafting. This involves taking bone from another part of the body, but this isn’t always practical if the amount of bone needed is too much, plus this method is also usually associated with high rates of infection. With this new method that the researchers have developed, they can instead inject this substance into the body and area where repair work needs to be done.
This is because like we said, it can be done at room temperature. The “ink” used is a biocompatible calcium phosphate that at room temperature is a paste, but when put into a gelatin bath, will harden into a porous nanocrystal matrix similar to that of bone tissue.
There is still a lot of work that needs to be done before it can be used in medical procedures, but it sounds interesting and could be something to look forward to in the future.