28 June 2016
A new approach to 3D printing could make it possible for doctors to use custom-made cartilage patches to repair joint damage in future.
The Penn State University study has created a type of artificial cartilage that closely mimics the qualities of natural cow cartilage, which can be used instead of ink in a 3D printing process.
This makes it possible to print out custom-made cartilage patches in a variety of shapes and structures, potentially aiding the treatment of those who have suffered joint degradation as a consequence of osteoarthritis.
Currently, a substance called hydrogel is used to provide a scaffold to grow cartilage tissue, but this results in a lack of mechanical strength. The patches created using the new 3D printing method are not as strong as natural cartilage, but have shown considerable benefits compared to those produced using hydrogel scaffolding.
Ibrahim Ozbolat, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics at Penn State University, said: "We can manufacture the strands in any length we want. Because there is no scaffolding, the process of printing the cartilage is scalable, so the patches can be made bigger as well."
Posted by Philip Briggs
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