September 14, 2011
Researchers Using 3D Printing To Develop Capillary Vessels
Researchers at Fraunhofer are using 3D printing technology that could one day supply artificial tissue and maybe complex organs.The researchers started the BioRap project in 2009 along with help from production engineers.
The team said they needed these engineers to build workpieces specifically according to any complex 3D model.
The scientists are currently working on transferring this technology to the generation of tiny biomaterial structures by combining 3D printing technology and multi photon polymerization.
A 3D inkjet printer can generate 3D solids from a variety of materials, but the researchers said this device is still too imprecise for developing the detailed structures they would need.
The team is using two-photon polymerization combined with the 3D printers in order to try and create capillary vessels.
The researchers came up with special inks to manufacture 3D elastic solids. This material has to have flexibility and elasticity and must be able to interact with the natural tissue for it to work.
They developed inks made of hybrid materials that contain a mixture of synthetic polymers and biomolecules.
Researchers have to precisely calculate the design of the structures and course of the vascular systems to ensure optimum flow speeds while preventing back-ups.
One way the new technology would be used is to one day build up artificial organs based on a circulation system with blood vessels created in this way to supply them with nutrients.
The team also said it would also be conceivable to treat bypass patients with artificial vessels.
The scientists did warn they are still just at the beginning of developing this new medical technology.
The research will be presented at the Biotechnica Fair in Hannover, Germany on October 11 and 13.
Image Caption: A Polymer vessel, which can become an artificial blood vessel, is flushed with cellmedium. (© Fraunhofer IGB)
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