Friday, 22 August 2014

"SPECIAL REPORT" 3D PRINTING - New Technology To Revolutionize Medical Industry

AFP Photo / Jean-Philippe Ksiazek

Scientists believe they have come up with a way to print drugs, using a 3D printer. They say they can create a capsule, which can be swallowed, and it will also allow doctors to alter a dosage according to the specific requirements.

A team of researchers, from the Louisiana Tech University, believes they have come up with a solution to find a biodegradable material, which could be used to contain everyday drugs, as well as chemotherapeutic compounds for those needing cancer treatments. The 3D printer would be able to create the capsule, meaning that medicine only needs to be inserted before it is sealed, Science Daily reports.

"After identifying the usefulness of the 3D printers, we realized there was an opportunity for rapid prototyping using this fabrication method," said Jeffery Weisman, who is a doctoral student in Louisiana Tech's biomedical engineering program. "Through the addition of nanoparticles and/or other additives, this technology becomes much more viable using a common 3D printing material that is already biocompatible. The material can be loaded with antibiotics or other medicinal compounds, and the implant can be naturally broken down by the body over time."

Weisman believes that one of great advantages of the new technology will be its ability to tailor the contents of a drug for particular needs. This could mean a dose of antibiotics could be made stronger or weaker, depending on the requirements of the patient. It would also mean hospitals or pharmacies would not have to wait for deliveries from pharmaceutical companies. As long as they have the drug in question, they can create the dosage in the medical facility, or drug store.

"One of the greatest benefits of this technology is that it can be done using any consumer printer and can be used anywhere in the world," Weisman said.

Dr. David K. Mills, who is a professor of biological sciences, also added that there are other uses that 3D printers could have in the medical industry. The vast majority of antibiotic implants, which are put inside someone undergoing an operation to ensure there is no risk of infection are made out of bone cements. Bone cements, which are normally used to anchor joints, such as a hip or knee, have to be mixed by the surgeon and are non-biodegradable, meaning the implant has to be removed once the operation has been completed. The researchers now believe that these antibiotic implants can be made out of bio-plastics, which can be broken down by the body, thus meaning no additional surgery is needed.

"Currently, embedding of additives in plastic requires industrial-scale facilities to ensure proper dispersion throughout the extruded plastic," explains Mills. "Our method enables dispersion on a tabletop scale, allowing researchers to easily customize additives to the desired levels. There are not even any industrial processes for antibiotics or special drug delivery as injection molding currently focuses more on colorants and cosmetic properties."

So far 3D printers have been used to create the outer shells for devices such as hearing aids. Phil Reeves, who is an expert in the 3D printing industry, says that there are currently around 10 million hearing aids in circulation and that this is a conservative estimate, according to Forbes.

The great advantage of using a 3D-printed hearing aid is that it gives the user much greater comfort, as it can be adjusted to the exact measurements required. This would simply not be possible if it was mass produced in a factory.

Meanwhile, in February 2012, the BBC reported how a woman in the Netherlands was given a replacement jaw, made out of titanium powder, which had been created by a 3D printer.

Layerwise, the company who helped design the product said:
"Once we received the 3D digital design, the part was split up automatically into 2D layers and then we sent those cross sections to the printing machine," the company added.

‘I Can Now Climb Trees’: 6years-Old Kid Gets Prosthetic Arm From 3D Printer

image from
A 6 year-old boy from Florida born with right arm deficiency has received a prosthetic replacement. Now climbing a tree and catching a ball will be easier for him. Students from Florida University made it on a 3D printer for just $350 in just 8 weeks.

Help for little Alex Pring, missing his right arm from just above the elbow, came from students at the University of Central Florida. An engineering doctoral student, Albert Manero, heard about the boy’s needs and decided to recruit a team of students to create a solution for the boy.
“I mean, I’m me. So I don’t have an arm,” little Alex said. “I still try real hard to do things like other kids using what I’ve got. But it’s getting harder the more I grow,” according to the official website of University of Central Florida.
The arm and part of the hand were made on a 3D printer. They run with off-the-shelf servos and batteries that are activated by the electromyography muscle energy in Alex’s bicep.
Alex’s new limb only cost $350 to build. In comparison, prosthetic arms for children cost much more – about $40,000 - and they have to be replaced often as children grow.
Also prosthetics for kids are more difficult to make than for adults because the components are much smaller, according to Manero. When Alex gets too big for his new limb, new parts will be printed and they will also be cheap– only $20 for a new hand, and around $40 to $50 for a replacement forearm.
"I hope that people look at these other arms that cost $40,000," Manero said. "If we can do this for just $350 in 8 weeks, I'm sure we're going to keep pioneering."
The arm was delivered to Alex on Friday. He practiced his new limb on a toy duck. He managed to grip the toy and squeeze it with his new hand. Then he rushed to his mother to hug her with both hands –for the first time in his life.
“When he hugged me with two hands, he just didn’t let go,” said Alyson Pring, Alex’s mother. “It was amazing. I think it will help his confidence, so he can see future possibilities and make them seem all the more reachable for him.”
Manero, who has a master’s degree from UCF in aerospace engineering and is writing his Ph.D., said he believes the team’s design could help many similarly affected children.
“My mother taught us that we’re supposed to help change the world,” said Manero. “We’re supposed to help make it better. That’s why we did it. The look on Alex’s face when he used it for the first time was priceless.”
And the enthusiastic team doesn’t want to stop at Alex - they have decided to help all children with such problems.
“We’ve already heard from another family who needs an arm. We’re committed to helping who we can.”
“ I think 3-D printing is revolutionizing our world in many ways. I believe changing the world of prosthetics is very real. There’s no reason why this approach shouldn’t work on adults too.”  

Surgeons perform 'world’s first' implant of entire 3D-printed plastic skull dome 

Dutch surgeons have successfully placed an entire 3D-printed skull dome over the brain of a 22-year-old woman suffering from a rare bone disorder. Doctors say this surgery is unprecedented.

Photo courtesy of UMC Utrecht

As a result of her undisclosed condition, the patient’s skull had thickened to 5 centimeters, instead of the usual 1.5 centimeters – meaning the bone was pressing down on the brain tissue causing vision loss, agonizing headaches and cognitive impairment.

When doctors decided to remove the top hemisphere of the skull, they opted for a specially-made plastic shell, which was made on a 3D printer. The technology allows complex objects to be created to precise specifications by a computer-aided machine that places thin layers of material of varying width on top of each other.

“Implants used to be made by hand in the operating theater using a sort of cement which was far from ideal,” said surgeon Bon Verweij, in a statement from UMC Utrecht, where the procedure was performed.

“Using 3D printing we can make one to the exact size. This not only has great cosmetic advantages, but patients’ brain function often recovers better than using the old method.”

The surgery, which took 23 hours, was conducted three months ago, with the results revealed only now, after the follow-up has showed that it worked as planned.

“The patient has her sight back entirely, is symptom-free and back to work. It is almost impossible to see that she’s ever had surgery,” Verweij said.
The previous landmark was a surgery last year in the US, where 75 percent of a man’s skull was replaced with a 3D-printed implant.

Photo courtesy of UMC Utrecht
In both cases, the designers first created a three-dimensional model of the patient’s head, and then designed the optimum, most natural shape for the implant that could most easily be clasped onto existing bones.
The US Food and Drug Administration sanctioned the use of such implants a year ago, and with demand for such surgeries running into the thousands in US and Europe, they should soon stop being high-tech curiosities, and become standard practice.

Hear, hear! Scientists create human-like ears with 3D printing

Larry Bonassar, Cornell Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering. (AFP Photo / Lyndsay France)
The latest innovation in 3D printing – artificial ears – feel, look and behave identically to human ones. The new product developed in the US could provide patients who are missing all or just part of their ear with a chance at reconstructive surgery.

Cornell biomedical engineers and Weill Cornell Medical College physicians published their study online in the PLOS ONE journal on Wednesday.

They show how they developed an ear over the course of three months by inserting living cells into an injection mold and then growing cartilage in the shape of its mold.

"This is such a win-win for both medicine and basic science, demonstrating what we can achieve when we work together," co-lead author Lawrence Bonassar, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Cornell, told AP.

According to the study, the first implant could be tried in around three years.

A 3-D printer. (AFP Photo / Lyndsey France)
Researchers began the project by creating a digitized 3D image of a human ear, which was used to build an ear-shaped mold using a 3D printer.

Then they injected a gel made of living cow ear cells and collagen (a substance used to make gelatin) into the mold and the ear was done.

The production part took less than two days: only half a day to build the mold, a day to print it, 30 minutes to insert the gel, then wait 15 minutes and everything was ready to go.

Digitization process for human ears. (Image from )
Scientists tested the artificial ears by implanting them on the backs of rats and it took one to three months for the ears to grow. Rodents are often used by scientists to test the growing of artificial ears.

"We trim the ear and then let it culture for several days in nourishing cell culture media before it is implanted," Bonassar told AP.

The need for the product is there. Thousands of children who are born with ear deformities and those who have lost an ear during their life could benefit from the new technology.

The most common deformity is microtia, when the external ear does not fully develop. In US one to four children per 10,000 are born with it, according to the study.
People born with microtia usually have an inner part of the ear fully functional, but they still have impaired hearing because they are missing part of their external ear.

Mold design based on ear anatomy. (Image from
"A bioengineered ear replacement like this would also help individuals who have lost part or all of their external ear in an accident or from cancer," co-lead author Jason Spector told Live Science.

Researchers identified the best time for implantation for the kids to be at around the age of five or six, when the ears are at 80 per cent of their adult size.

The study says that a chance of rejection during implant procedure could be potentially decreased by using human cells from the same patient when constructing the bioengineered ear.

Schematic representation of length and width measurements. (Image from
Before this point, technology only allowed to build replacement ears with a foam-like consistency or by using a patient's harvest rib, the latter is a painful process and ears still often looked unnatural and did not properly work.

Culled From

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