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Scientists 3D-Printing Cartilage For Medical Implants 23

Molly McHugh writes Scientists and physicians at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research have discovered a way to use MakerBot's 3D-printing technologies to create cartilage and repair tissue damage in the trachea. From the article: "Researchers found that it’s possible to use the MakerBot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer to print what’s called 'scaffolding,' made up of PLA, a bioplastic commonly used in in surgical implant devices. The team customized the printer so that living cells could be printed onto the scaffolding. The 3D-printed mixture of healthy cells found in cartilage, and collagen, eventually grew into the shape of a trachea that could be implanted into a patient."
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Scientists 3D-Printing Cartilage For Medical Implants

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  • Man there are a lot of future implant recipients waiting out there...
    • by digsbo ( 1292334 )
      They've done some work on organs and muscles, but the strength/function doesn't seem to be very robust yet. It will happen eventually.
  • Did the mod even read the summary before writing the title? They are NOT printing anything that replaces anything in the body. Hence, not an implant.

    • Re:Ah, no. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sandytaru ( 1158959 ) on Wednesday January 28, 2015 @06:23PM (#48927959) Journal
      No, they are. It's a 3D printed trachea. They 3D print the plastic scaffolding, and then they 3D print some incubated cells on top of the scaffolding, which they then incubate some more until it's ready to implant. They have a whole paragraph devoted to the "bio ink" made from cartilage cells.

      To me the most fascinating tidbit was that they build the parts for the incubator itself with the MakerBot, saving many thousands of dollars.
  • How is this different from what Harvard Apparatus is already doing in clinical studies?
    • Seems like Harvard Apparatus uses bone marrow stem cells and not cartilage cells to seed the scaffolding. Extracting stem cells from bone marrow is incredibly time consuming and expensive. Cartilage, on the other hand, can be nicked off someone's ear.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      They use a cartilage cartridge :-)

  • Surviving a trachia transplant is about a 50/50 proposition. The operation must be pure hell on the patient.
  • Why would they need something so fancy to damage your cartilage and repair tissue?
  • Why so specific? There are a lot of comercial competitors as well as DIY printers in the same league as the Makerbot Replicator. None of this was available in today's affordable form before the RepRap project. This almost sounds like a very strange ad and unless there is something very special about Makerbot many contributors to 3d printing technology could find it offensive.

    • If I needed one of these for myself, I would sincerely hope that the hospital could afford better than an entry level cranky 3D printer. It only works in this context because they're experimenting and because a scaffolding does not need to be very precise.

      In some ways, 3D printing gets used because it's a way to promote 3D printing, even if you could get something cheaper and faster by just having someone carve the same thing out of styrofoam. Makerbot is like Arduino, hyped enough that people think they'

      • "If I needed one of these for myself, I would sincerely hope that the hospital could afford better than an entry level"

        Agreed although they can use whatever they want if it's the best that they have and my alternative is death.

        "It only works in this context because they're experimenting"

        Yup.. that makes sense. They can prove the concept here before buying the million dollar magic bot.

        "In some ways, 3D printing gets used because it's a way to promote 3D printing"

        Ok... sure. I see that all the time. But they

  • 3-D printed Kardashian ass implants.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll