3D printing has still to show its potential in biomedical applications. Researchers particularly are interested in unleashing the additive manufacturing technology for medical implants. Printing of soft biomaterials has been replete with challenges—the most prominent of which is lack of biocompatibility. Previous techniques have been inefficient to support soft structures, since soft materials sag. Scientists have possibly found a solution to circumvent this.
Novel 3D Printing Technique Makes High-Precision Implants Possible
Recently, researchers from the University of Birmingham have come out with a new technique they call suspended layer additive manufacturing (SLAM). The 3D printing technique uses polymer-based hydrogel which can house soft materials. The self-healing properties enables gels, and collagens, and other biomaterials to take shape with high precision. The lead of the research, Professor Liam M Grover, team opined that SLAM has an incredible potential in making implants. Most notable of these are heart valves, blood vessels, and biocompatible plugs. Further, he contended that the technique can be useful in developing biomaterials to repair cartilage and bone damage.
Self-Healing Properties of Hydrogel Central to All
According to researchers, self-healing properties of the hydrogel has been the key aspect of the potential of the new 3D printing method. The properties help these materials to retain their shape, making 3D printing possible.
The research has opened a new paradigm in the use of 3D printing in health care. Hospitals in not-so-distant future will use the method to offer patient-tailored implants. Further, growing numbers of hospitals will benefit from a centralized 3D printing center. However, the clinical translation will take some time, unarguably.