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Design News, March 2013

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Design Hardware & Software Implantable Cartilage Created With 3D Printer while some hobbyists are rapidly prototyping items and objects from 3D printers, others in the medical field have taken that tool to a whole new level in printing out actual implantable tissue and even organs that could prolong life. In the last few years, medical science has used 3D printers to replace damaged tissue (skin) or to restore limbs for those who have suffered wounds.While the procedures used so far are astounding in concept, they can't quite compare to what scientists from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine are developing using a hybrid 3D printer. The group recently made advances in simplifying the printing process for creating implantable cartilageconstructs that could be used to help regrow damaged cartilage in areas such as joints.This advancement was due in part by creating a hybrid 3D printer, which makes the overall process easier and is the combination of an ink jet printer and an electrospinning machine. These two pieces of technology combined is the key to creating the cartilage-constructs as it combines both synthetic (for strength) and natural (gel used to promote healthy cell growth) materials.The scientists used the electrospinning machine to generate an electrical current through polymer solution to create very fine fibers.The process allows the scientists to control the composition of the polymers, which coalesce into porous structures and allows the cells to integrate into the surrounding tissue. They tested their findings using layered flexible mats of electrospun polymer, which were combined with a solution of healthy rabbit ear cells deposited using the ink jet printer. The resulting constructs were then stress-tested for strength using variable weights, which were found to be robust and still alive after one week of testing.These constructs were then introduced into living mice in a controlled environment for two, four, and eight weeks to analyze how they would function in a living system. After eight weeks, the constructs Wake Forest researchers used a hybrid 3D printer to fabricate implantable cartilage. LBP-017 (4.5 X 7.5).ai 1 2/3/2011 8:41:15 AM C M Y CM MY CY CMY K Design News | march 2013| www.d esign n ews.com –34–

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