The structure of bone scaffolds is precise and must have distinctive pores of a specific diameter within the structure. In order to replicate such architecture, bone tissue engineering (BTE) scientists are turning to 3D printing technology. By defining the design with data in a CAD program, they can use rapid prototyping (RP) technology to produce exactly what they need to mimic the bone’s natural structure and to fit the individual patient’s particular defect. They use Hydroxyapatite, a naturally forming form of calcium mineral that is found in bone and dental enamel and is “stoichiometric similarity to the inorganic part of natural bone.” This fabricated implant serves as a foundation for with the patient’s own cells can grow around it. The article emphasizes the importance of this step as making the implant a permanent fixture within the patient’s body. They do this by ensuring the surface area of the template implant is conducive towards natural tissue cell development.
This article dates back to 2005, illustrating the interesting time lag that exists between medical technology and the experience of the technology for an everyday consumer. In 2011 we are just beginning to experience 3D printing technology in an accessible and affordable form, but the know-how has been in existence for years. Furthermore, it indicates that the technology that we have chosen to study is a highly interdisciplinary technology that transcends the boundaries of one area of research. There are many implications for the further development of 3D printing, and this journal just confirms that the medical field holds very exciting possibilities
Submitted by Jennifer Walker