The World’s First 3D-Printed Titanium Rib Cage Is a Medical Marvel

September 20, 2015

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It sounds like something straight out of a comic book, but after losing his sternum and part of his rib cage to cancer, a 54-year-old Spanish man received the world’s first 3D-printed chest prosthetic made from lightweight, but incredibly strong, titanium.

Titanium implants aren’t new, but replacing large sections of the rib cage is tricky. Titanium prosthetics are usually built from various plate components, and over time they can come loose creating future complications.

Surgeons at the Salamanca University Hospital in Spain decided that a custom-designed titanium prosthetic would better replicate the portions of the patient’s chest that had been removed, and in the long term would be a safer option.

The World's First 3D-Printed Titanium Rib Cage Is a Medical Marvel

Using high-resolution 3D CT scans of the patient’s chest, the surgeons determined what areas needed to be replaced, and then turned to a Melbourne, Australia-based company called Anatomics to design and build the replacement sternum and rib cage.

As impressive as home 3D printers like the MakerBot are, printing with titanium requires a higher level of expertise and equipment. Anatomics actually used a $1.3 million electron beam Arcam 3D printer to produce the prosthetic, the first of its kind in the world, which was then flown to Spain and surgically implanted in the patient.

http://gizmodo.com/ajax/inset/iframe?id=youtube-video-Xt0CiUDVPHk&start=0

Just 12 days after their final surgery, the patient, who is now probably the closest thing the world has to Marvel’s Wolverine, was discharged and is recovering well. And 3D printing takes another important step forward to becoming one of the most important technologies of the 21st century.

http://gizmodo.com/the-worlds-first-3d-printed-titanium-rib-cage-is-a-medi-1730034483

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Dutch startup plans first 3D printed steel bridge to span Amsterdam canal

June 27, 2015

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A Dutch startup has unveiled plans to build the world’s first 3D-printed bridge across an Amsterdam canal, a technique that could become standard on future construction sites.

Using robotic printers “that can ‘draw’ steel structures in 3D, we will print a (pedestrian) bridge over water in the centre of Amsterdam,” engineering startup company MX3D said in a statement, hoping to kick off the project by September.

The plan involves robotic arm printers ‘walking’ across the canal as it slides along the bridge’s edges, essentially printing its own support structure out of thin air as it moves along.

Specially-designed robotic arms heat the metal to a searing 1,500 degrees Celsius (around 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit) to painstakingly weld the structure drop-by-drop, using a computer programme to plot the sophisticated design.

“The underlying principle is very simple. We have connected an advanced welding machine to an industrial robot arm,” said the bridge’s designer Joris Laarman.

“We now use our own intelligent software to operate these machines so they can print very complex metal shapes which can differ each time,” Laarman said of the project also involving the Heijmans construction company and Autodesk software.

So far, the robotic arm has been used to print smaller metal structures, but the bridge will be the first ever large-scale deployment of the technology, MX3D spokeswoman Eva James said.

It is hoped that the bridge will be a first step towards seeing the technique used on construction sites, especially those involving dangerous tasks such as on high buildings, she said.

The technique also removes the need for scaffolding as the robot arms use the very structure they print as support.

The designers are now in talks with the Amsterdam city council to find a site for the project which they hope will be completed by mid-2017.

“I strongly believe in the future of digital manufacturing and local production,” said Laarman. “It’s a new form of craftsmanship.”

“This bridge can show how 3D printing has finally entered the world of large-scale functional objects and sustainable materials,” he said.

Amsterdam city council spokeswoman Charlene Verweij said the Dutch capital was supporting the project.

“We are still in negotiations as to where exactly the bridge will be built,” she said.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jun/17/dutch-startup-plans-first-3d-printed-steel-bridge-to-span-amsterdam-canal

3D-Printed Kidney Tissue Is Here

April 13, 2015

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Just like you would hope, something very cool was revealed at the 2015 Experimental Biology conference in Boston: the biomedical company Organovo showed off its technique for 3D printing human kidney tissue.

Organovo has been working on printing functional human tissue since being incorporated in 2007, and first printed a cellular blood vessel in 2010. Since January 2014, it has offered bioprinted liver tissue (marketed as exVive3D™ liver tissue) for companies to use in drug trials and disease modeling, and it looks as though its bioprinted human kidney tissue will be used for the same tasks, starting sometime in the latter half of 2016.

“Kidney represents an ideal extension of capabilities to 3D bioprint organ tissues that can be tremendously useful in pharmaceutical research,” Keith Murphy, Organovo’s chairman and CEO, said via press release. “The product that we intend to build from these initial results can be an excellent expansion for our core customers in toxicology, who regularly express to us an interest in having better solutions for the assessment of human kidney toxicity.”

Organovo’s website has a video that sort of explains how they take human cells and put them into, in this case, a matrix to grow into human tissue. An email with follow-up questions has yet to be answered, but as the Wall Street Journal explained in February, Organovo prints organs in much the same way, putting cells in as “bio-ink” and then printing them in layers, initially held together by hydrogel until the cells grow together.

The most common type of kidney cancer is renal cell carcinoma, so it’s probably no surprise that Organovo demonstrated how it printed multiple “tissue-relevant cell types” to recapitulate the renal tubes themselves.

So far Organovo’s 3D-printed liver tissue is used for preclinical drug trials, because the tissue responds like a real life human liver would for 42 days. That’s much longer than the single layers of cells previously used in tests, which wilt in a few days. There are mixed views on how far off printing functional organs for transplant is. Growing tissue is one thing, but growing an organ and integrating it into a living body is another.

“Everybody’s dream is the 3D-printed organ. Are we ever going to get there?” asked Gabor Forgacs, whose research forms the basis of Organovo’s method. “I’m not so sure,” he told the Select Biosciences Tissue Engineering & Bioprinting Conference, which was also held in Boston.

In the course of his keynote speech Forgacs argued that there was no reason functional organs couldn’t be made eventually, but that printing replacement organs on demand was still decades away.

With the cost of bringing new drugs to market extremely high, and the price being passed on to consumers in dramatic and unfortunate ways, lowering the cost of pharmaceutical tests is still very useful. Like biopaper covered in collagen and a protein matrix, it’s a place to grow.

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/3d-printed-kidney-tissue-is-here

 

First Ever 3D Printed Thyroid Gland Announced by Russia’s 3D Bioprinting Solutions

March 29, 2015

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The advancements seen within the field of 3D bioprinting are simply staggering. With numerous companies spending millions of dollars on advancing such technologies, we are in the early stages of what may be one of the most important medical revolutions of our time. With 3D printed human organs promising to one day eliminate the lengthy organ transplant waiting lists, perhaps saving hundreds of thousands of lives each year, these advances can not come soon enough.

Back in November we covered a story about a Skolkovo, Russia-based company called 3D Bioprinting Solutions. At the time, the company, which is headed up by Vladimir Mironov, made headlines, promising to have a 3D printed thyroid gland of a mouse by March of this year.

Here we are at the end of March, and the company has seemingly come through, holding a major press conference in Russia yesterday to announce their achievement. On March 12 the first ever thyroid gland for an animal — a mouse — was printed using the company’s patented bioprinting process. The goal here was to print a thyroid gland which could then be transplanted into a living mouse in order to further evaluate its capabilities.

The transplantation is expected to take place very soon, with researchers choosing to implant the organ into a mouse suffering from hypothyroidism, a condition which is caused by an excess of iodine in the body. Once implanted, they will evaluate the condition of the mouse and release the results of the study to the general public at the Second International Congress on Bioprinting in Singapore on July 9-10.

Researchers working for 3D Bioprinting Solutions chose the thyroid because of its simplicity. With that said, thyroid cancer is the 16th most commonly diagnosed form of cancer on the planet, with close to 300,000 new diagnoses in 2012 alone. Additionally, millions more suffer from other thyroid disorders, meaning that the ability to print a thyroid gland on demand could have major positive implications for an extraordinary number of individuals.

The printer used to construct the thyroid, works by using stem cells taken from the living orgasm via its fat cells. It then mixes these cells with a hydrogel, placing them down via an extruder, layer-by-layer. Once the cells take shape, the hydrogel dissolves, leaving the organ. The rejection of the organ should be minimal according to Mironov because it is created from the organism’s own stem cells. In essence, their body indirectly created the organ with the help of the 3D printer.

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3D Bioprinting Solutions eventually wants to also 3D print other organs, especially the kidney. In fact, they claim that they are on pace to do so by 2018.

It will be interesting to see the results of the first animal trials in July, as well as if the company can remain on track to print out an actual kidney by 2018. Let’s hear your thoughts on this research in the 3D Printed Thyroid forum thread on 3DPB.com.  Check out the video below (in Russian) describing the process used to 3D print this thyroid gland.

 

 

http://3dprint.com/54159/3d-printed-thyroid-mouse/

 

 

IBM invents ’3D nanoprinter’ for microscopic objects

April 26, 2014

“With our new technique, we achieve very high resolution at 10 nanometers at greatly reduced cost and complexity. In particular, by controlling the amount of material evaporated, 3D relief patterns can also be produced at the unprecedented accuracy of merely one nanometer in a vertical direction. Now it’s up to the imagination of scientists and engineers.”

IBM scientists have invented a tiny “chisel” with a nano-sized heatable silicon tip that creates patterns and structures on a microscopic scale.

The tip, similar to the kind used in atomic force microscopes, is attached to a bendable cantilever that scans the surface of the substrate material with the accuracy of one nanometer.

Unlike conventional 3D printers, by applying heat and force, the nanosized tip can remove (rather than add) material based on predefined patterns, thus operating like a “nanomilling” machine with ultra-high precision.

By the end 2014, IBM hopes to begin exploring the use of this technology for its research with graphene.

“To create more energy-efficient clouds and crunch Big Data faster we need a new generation of technologies including new transistors, but before going into mass production, new techniques are needed for prototyping below 30 nanometers,” said Dr. Armin Knoll, a physicist at IBM Research – Zurich.

“With our new technique, we achieve very high resolution at 10 nanometers at greatly reduced cost and complexity. In particular, by controlling the amount of material evaporated, 3D relief patterns can also be produced at the unprecedented accuracy of merely one nanometer in a vertical direction. Now it’s up to the imagination of scientists and engineers.”

Other applications include nano-sized security tags to prevent the forgery of documents like currency, passports and priceless works of art, and quantum computing and communications (the nano-sized tip could be used to create high quality patterns to control and manipulate light at unprecedented precision).

The NanoFrazor

IBM has licensed this technology to a startup based in Switzerland called SwissLitho, which is bringing the technology to market under the name NanoFrazor.

Several weeks ago the firm shipped its first NanoFrazor to McGill University’s Nanotools Microfab, where scientists and students will use the tool’s unique fabrication capabilities to experiment with ideas for designing novel nano-devices.

To promote the new technology, scientists etched a microscopic National Geographic Kids magazine cover in 10 minutes onto a polymer. The resulting magazine cover is so small at 11 x 14 micrometers that 2,000 can fit on a grain of salt.

Today (April 25), IBM claimed its ninth GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for the Smallest Magazine Cover at the USA Science & Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C. Visible through a Zeiss microscope, the cover will be on display there on April 26 and 27.