A 3D printer is being used to create "bone-like" material which researchers claim can be used to repair injuries.
The engineers say the substance can be added to damaged natural bone where it acts as a scaffold for new cells to grow.
It ultimately dissolves with "no apparent ill-effects", the team adds.
The researchers say doctors should be able to use the process to custom-order replacement bone tissue in a few years time.
Prof Susmita Bose helped carry out the work at Washington State University and co-authored a report in the Dental Materials journal.
"You can use the bone-like ceramic powder as a feed material and it can make whatever you draw on the computer," she says.
"It is mostly [suitable for] low load bearing applications. However, what we are trying to develop is the controlled degradation... of these scaffolds where as the scaffold dissolves in the body the bone tissue grows over it."
Prof Bose's team have spent four years developing the bone-like substance.
Prof Bose hopes the material will be used for orthopaedic and dental work
Their breakthrough came when they discovered a way to double the strength of the main ceramic powder - calcium phosphate - by adding silica and zinc oxide.
To create the scaffold shapes they customised a printer which had originally been designed to make three-dimensional metal objects.
It sprayed a plastic binder over the loose powder in layers half as thick as the width of a human hair.
The process was repeated layer by layer until completed, at which point the scaffold was dried, cleaned and then baked for two hours at 1250C (2282F).