The experimental 3D printer, which combines electrospinning and ink jet printing technologies

Hybrid 3D printer produces implantable cartilage

By Ben Coxworth
November 23, 2012

Generally speaking, injured cartilage doesn’t heal well … if at all. In recent years, however, scientists have successfully regrown cartilage at injury sites, using things like hydrogel, microspheres and collagen-based nano-scaffolding. Now, a team of scientists led by Prof. James Yu of North Carolina’s Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have developed something else – a 3D printer that creates implantable cartilage.

For some time now, it’s been possible to create items such as artificial arteries using what’s known as a 3D bio-printer. What’s unique about the new device is the technologies and printing materials that it combines.

One of those technologies is electrospinning. In this process, an electrical current is utilized to create fine fibers from a synthetic polymer solution. These fibers are used to create a porous nanostructure which serves as a sort of “nesting ground” for cartilage cells, making it easier for cartilage adjacent to the injury site to grow back into it.

Read more: Hybrid 3D printer produces implantable cartilage — gizmag.

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