A 3D printers can make the approximation of anything out of many materials. Why not make replacements for bones in the same way? Researchers at Washington State University (WSU) has shown it is possible. "If a doctor has a CT scan of a defect, we can convert it to a CAD file and make the scaffold according to the defect,” said co-author of the study, Professor Susmita Bose.
Using a ProMetal 3D printer, the team printed bone like material using a spray of plastic binder over a bed of powder with 20 micron layers into a framework for real bone to grow over. The framework is placed into a container of immature bone cells. Within a week, the "scaffold," as the team calls it, supports a network of new bone cells. Eventually enough bone grows on the scaffold, and the internal frame work dissolves, leaving an artificial bone.
Bone replacements using this method has proven great results in rats and rabbits. This comes after a year of prepping the ProMetal machine by Bose along with her team, Professor Amit Bandyopadhyay, doctoral student Gary Fielding and research assistant Solaiman Tarafder. Coupled with a $1.5 million dollar grant from the National Institute of Health, we are sure to see more soon.
The team boasts that within 10 years, this technique could be providing bones to the medical community. Most notably, the process can grow teeth. This will revolutionize the dental industry. No more fake crowns and implants.
This development uses a similar framework base as the I have a hard time looking at the picture, just a forewarning.