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

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Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine used a hybrid 3D printer to fabricate implantable cartilage on the heels of printing a working kidney.   (Source: Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine)
Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine used a hybrid 3D printer to fabricate implantable cartilage on the heels of printing a working kidney.
(Source: Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine)

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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.

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.  

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.

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

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!

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!

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?

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   1/22/2013 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.

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.

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