AMS Spring 2023

Fraunhofer Develops New Plasma Jet Technique for 3D Printing Customized Bone Implants

6K SmarTech

Share this Article

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST have developed a technique that involves 3D printing bone implants that are precisely fitting, stable and variable in dimensions. Conventional surface treatments that use low pressure or atmospheric pressure techniques have limited penetration into the interior of bone implants, but Fraunhofer’s technique uses a plasma jet to apply a cell growth-promoting coating to the interior as well as the exterior of the implants.

The device blows a cold jet of plasma containing reactive groups directly onto the 3D printed layers. The amino groups then bond with the surface and ensure that the bone cells find a convenient substrate to adhere to. The technique differs from others in that the 3D printing and coating processes are combined in one device. No chemical pretreatment with solvents is required for the coating, so the procedure is both cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

The implant is built around a scaffold made from a special copolymer that is molded on the natural bone. The technique allows for customized, patient-specific, precisely fitting design and stability.

“Our goal is for the bone cells to grow into the synthetic structure as quickly as possible and finally replacing the implant which is broken down gradually by the body’s own enzymes,” said Dr. Jochen Borris, who heads up the Life Science and Ecology business unit at Fraunhofer IST.

The mechanical stability of the implant can be controlled by the density of the 3D printed scaffold structure, as well as via special fillers that are added to the copolymer. The higher the filler concentration, the more stable the implant will be.

“This development by our project partners from Maastricht University makes it possible to individually vary the stability inside the implant. Like natural bones, implants can now have areas with different strengths,” said Dr. Thomas Neubert, manager of the EU project at Fraunhofer IST.

Active drug ingredients such as antibiotics can also be incorporated in the filler to reduce the risk of infection.

The next step for the project team is to modify the technique and bring it to application maturity. The experimental setup is still currently on a laboratory scale.

“We’re currently working on simplifying the process and making it more stable. To be able to further pursue development and carry out clinical studies, we’re on the search for industrial partners,” said Dr. Borris. “The innovative technique offers a lot of potential for adapting bone implants very precisely to the individual needs of patients. With our method, we’re able to control the shape, porosity, mechanical stability and biomechanical characteristics well and vary them within the implants. This means that we can produce areas with different strengths or porosities, which can also be coated with various functional groups.”

This technique has a lot of potential for the treatment of patients with cancer or severe fractures. In the future, the idea is for doctors to be able to formulate the specific requirements for each patient based on scanned images and then to send the data to medical print shops, which would 3D print the patient-specific implants.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below.

 

Share this Article


Recent News

DMG Mori and Illinois Tech Announce Plans for National Center for Advanced Manufacturing

3D Printing News Unpeeled: Cellulose Nanocrystal PLA Bone Scaffolds, CraftBot and Zellerfeld



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D Printed Food

3D Printed Guns


You May Also Like

The Women Trailblazing the Tiktok 3D Printing Scene, Part 1

3D printing was once only seen as a technology reserved only for professionals. It was difficult and expensive to obtain a system before desktop 3D printers began proliferating at the...

Featured

A First-Timer’s “Definitive” Guide to Surviving Formnext

Believe it or not, this year was my very first time attending the additive manufacturing (AM) industry powerhouse event known as formnext, which has been held in Germany for eight...

Desktop 3D Printer from Quantica Opens New Inkjet 3D Printing Possibilities

When we met Quantica at RAPID + TCT this year, we were so impressed with its inkjet 3D printing technology that we quickly invited Founder Ben Hartkopp onto the 3DPOD...

3D Printing Webinar and Event Roundup: October 30, 2022

We’re ramping up again in this week’s roundup, with several events taking place, including ICAM 2022, DEVELOP3D Live, ASME’s AM Medical Summit, and more. In terms of webinars, Stratasys and...