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Implantable Cartilage Created With Hybrid 3D Printer
1/21/2013

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Hybrid 3D printer utilizes low cost ink jet printer and an electrospinning machine allows for the building of organic and synthetic materials.   (Source: Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine)
Hybrid 3D printer utilizes low cost ink jet printer and an electrospinning machine allows for the building of organic and synthetic materials.
(Source: Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine)

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Elizabeth M
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Sci fi meets reality
Elizabeth M   1/21/2013 4:08:13 PM
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Wow, all of this seems really futuristic and sci-fi, but it makes sense--if you can create other synthetic materials with 3D printers, why not use them to replicate synthetic human tissue or body parts? It still conjures slightly gruesome images of body parts being made via an assembly line or something like that! But if it represents a breakthrough for the medical industry and a better quality of life for patients, then it's a welcome innovation.

jlinstrom
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Re: Sci fi meets reality
jlinstrom   1/22/2013 11:35:21 AM
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Elizabeth - the science is there or will be shortly. As far as the 'gruesome' that's on us, the humans, to keep in hand. "Just because we can, doesn't mean we should." - but you probably know this already.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Sci fi meets reality
Elizabeth M   1/22/2013 1:24:27 PM
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Agree in terms of the "just because we can doesn't mean we should." Remember when cloning was all the rage and there was much controversy over cloning sheep and the possibility of cloning humans? Though I'm sure cloning is still being researched widely, the furor seems to have died down and humans seem to have fallen on the side of ethics rather than science...or have they??

notarboca
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Re: Sci fi meets reality
notarboca   1/22/2013 12:06:12 PM
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I am personally interested in the organic cartilage--had an ACL replacement done on my right knee in '88, after 2 previous arthroscopes to trim damaged cartilage.  It is getting to the point of having bone on bone contact, so when this procedure is FDA certified, I'll most assuredly look into having it done.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Sci fi meets reality
Elizabeth M   1/22/2013 2:54:49 PM
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Hi, just out of curiosity, notarboca, do you know what material was used in your original replacement? Is that, too, wearing thin now?

notarboca
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Re: Sci fi meets reality
notarboca   1/23/2013 9:46:41 AM
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Hi Elizabeth M, I didn't have any cartilage replaced, just trimmed to lessen the chance of a future tear.  Don't know if any form of artificial material was even available back then.  Oh, to be 23 years old again!

Elizabeth M
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Re: Sci fi meets reality
Elizabeth M   1/23/2013 12:38:44 PM
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Ah, I know the feeling! Due to my sporting ways over the years, I fear some kind of cartilage replacement is in my future...the joints are starting to go tweaky on me...and my father had two knees and a shoulder replaced. Good to see some of these advancements...maybe they will be ready by the time we need them!

Cabe Atwell
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Re: Sci fi meets reality
Cabe Atwell   1/23/2013 4:07:05 PM
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In this case, they printed the framework and grew the rest of it. But, making the support structure is vital, only 3D printing make for an easy build of complicated forms. A few years ago, someone received a manufactured throat based on similar tech. I am sure that person is very happy now. This type of tech should be explored further and improved, without a doubt.

Anything to better our lives. Imagine, pulverized a fiber, print a new one. It will happen.

C

Charles Murray
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Re: Sci fi meets reality
Charles Murray   2/4/2013 7:25:16 PM
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It's amazing how many people are now getting knee and hip replacements, Liz. And it's great that such technologies are available. A couple of generations ago, those injuries got worse and people were crippled by them. Thanks to some serious engineering innovation in the past 30 years, people can now live pretty normal lives with replacement joints.  

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Sci fi meets reality
Ann R. Thryft   2/25/2013 1:45:08 PM
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I learned at MD&M West that titanium hip cups can now be produced for about $70 each on EOS machines. That's how far this technology has come.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Sci fi meets reality
Ann R. Thryft   1/22/2013 12:09:46 PM
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Yet another medical implant made with a 3D printer, following the titanium jaw, as well as lots of dental implants, DN has covered previously. Looks like Wake Forest U is at the leading edge of some of this R&D.

Dave Palmer
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Re: Sci fi meets reality
Dave Palmer   1/22/2013 7:18:50 PM
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This is very impressive, and a good example of why engineers should study biology.  The last time I took a biology class was in 9th grade -- I managed to make it all the way through college and graduate school in engineering without learning much of anything about living things.  This is a real problem, since so many of today's engineering innovations are either biomedical in nature or biologically-inspired.

I think the "gross" factor comes with the territory, to a certain extent; it's something that medical students have to learn to get over.  Intellectually, I don't think there is anything "gruesome" about body parts being made on an assembly line, especially if they will help people to have a better life.  But on an emotional/gut level, it does seem kind of creepy.

Charles Murray
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Re: Sci fi meets reality
Charles Murray   1/22/2013 8:39:17 PM
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I agree, Dave. I, too, never took a biology class in college while studying engineering. Bioengineering used to be an engineer's route to medical school. Now it should be much more than that -- an important discipline unto itself.

Jennifer Campbell
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Re: Sci fi meets reality
Jennifer Campbell   1/22/2013 9:13:29 PM
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Every time I read a story about something that has been 3D printed - from a person's jaw to an outfit debuting at fashion week - I am more and more amazed. My fear, however, is that these 3D-printed body parts are going to backfire. How safe are they really? And how are we to know for sure?

Charles Murray
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Re: Sci fi meets reality
Charles Murray   1/30/2013 6:43:18 PM
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Good point, Jenn. I think it will be a long time before we see anything like this used in human surgery. Cadaver cartilage for knees is still a new field, with just a handful of doctors doing those operations. Given that, I would think that 3D-printed cartilage might be a long way off.

Gorski
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Implantable cartilage created with hybrid 3D printer
Gorski   1/21/2013 9:49:12 PM
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This procedure could lead to some outstanding future medical aadvances. The kidney reproduction should be pursued as there is a vast market for kidney replacements. I have a son who has waited 4 years for a donor with no results. He is on two donor lists. Reproducing a kidney from a patient should lessen teh problem of rejection and not limit donated kidneys to younger patients.

Gorski, PE

Gorski
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Implantable cartilage created with hybrid 3D printer
Gorski   1/21/2013 9:49:12 PM
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This procedure could lead to some outstanding future medical aadvances. The kidney reproduction should be pursued as there is a vast market for kidney replacements. I have a son who has waited 4 years for a donor with no results. He is on two donor lists. Reproducing a kidney from a patient should lessen teh problem of rejection and not limit donated kidneys to younger patients.

Gorski, PE

Gorski
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Platinum
Implantable cartilage created with hybrid 3D printer
Gorski   1/21/2013 9:49:12 PM
NO RATINGS
This procedure could lead to some outstanding future medical aadvances. The kidney reproduction should be pursued as there is a vast market for kidney replacements. I have a son who has waited 4 years for a donor with no results. He is on two donor lists. Reproducing a kidney from a patient should lessen teh problem of rejection and not limit donated kidneys to younger patients.

Gorski, PE

eafpres
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Process clarifications?
eafpres   1/22/2013 9:34:27 PM
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Hi Cabe--thanks for highlighting these developments.  I read your article, then some earlier reports on the Wake Forest work and others, and I'm still unclear.  It seems that at least some (many?) of the promising approaches for organs involve printing a frame or scaffold roughly the size/shape of what you want, then somehow applying a tissue mixture and getting it to grow.  If all goes well, you end up with the tissue you want in the geometry your want.

Where I get confused is while 3D printing the scaffold makes sense and I can see that 3D printing is enabling amazing advances, in the 2nd step it doesn't really look like printing.  It is more like "applying".  Although they talk about an ink-jet printer it is unclear that the 2nd step is really very selective or 3D.  The photos unfortunately don't change that conclusion--they appear to be dispensing not printing.

Can you shed any more light on the process details and exactly where 3D printing is helping/enabling?

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