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AMS Speaker Spotlight: 3D Printed Bioceramics for Better Patient Outcomes

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Ossiform’s CCO, Casper Slots, will be participating in Additive Manufacturing Strategies 2022, Panel 3: Markets for Printable Biomaterials. Ossiform has developed a proprietary technology, involving a novel formulation of biomaterials for 3D printing, to produce more natural bone implants and elevate in vitro research.  

Usually, the word “ceramics” makes you think of porcelain and pottery – but ceramics are much more than that! Definitionally, ceramics are a material which is neither metallic nor organic. Ceramics are typically hard and chemically non-reactive, can be formed or densified with heat and can be either crystalline, glassy or both. Although some ceramics are of the porcelain type, other ceramics have different properties making them biocompatible – such ceramics, called bioceramics, are closely related to the body’s own bones and often used as rigid materials in surgical implants.

Calcium phosphates (CaPs) have been widely used as a bioceramic for decades because of their osteoconductive and resorbable properties, making them especially promising within bone reconstruction. Despite having been used for decades, one main issue persists: The forming, or rather lack of forming, of the hard and crystalline material.

3D printing with β-tricalcium phosphate using a proprietary technology.

Until now, CaPs have been used as bioceramics in blocks or granules, making it difficult for the surgeon to customize the implants for the patients leading to suboptimal aesthetics. Despite osteoconductive and resorbable properties being important for the overall outcome for the patient, one must not belittle the importance of the aesthetic outcome for the patient.

Ossiform has developed a disruptive 3D printing technology which circumvents this exact issue, by making the bioceramic printable. This is done by mixing beta-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) with fatty acids, resulting in a 3D-printable paste. After 3D printing the implants, they are sintered, thereby completely burning off the fatty acids. The result is a bone implant consisting solely of β-TCP with a porous structure and in a shape that is completely accustomed to the patient receiving the implant. This is a huge breakthrough and a door-opener as to making an entrance to the global bone implant market – a market with an estimated value of US$4.8 billion that is experiencing an increasing demand for biocompatible implants to reduce complications, facilitate bone regeneration, and provide structural support.

Implant model example of Ossiform’s 3D printed bioceramic.

The printable bioceramic has further enabled Ossiform to enter the biotech industry with research products specialized towards 3D culturing of cells, a market predicted to reach a value of US$11 billion by 2027. Up until now, scaffold-based 3D cell culture systems have been based on collagen, glass fibers or PLA, which poorly mimic in vivo conditions, thereby leading to cell studies with results based on a setup where the cellular responses might differ from in vivo. By using a printable bioceramic, like Ossiform’s P3D Scaffolds, researchers are able to obtain more representative in vitro studies and gain better overall knowledge of the cell types that they are working with.

With more reliable fundamental research data, one can earlier determine whether the tested drug or device will be approved for clinical trials while cutting down expenses and minimizing the use of laboratory animals. This makes the progression from preliminary testing in the laboratory to clinical trials markedly faster – which ultimately leads to a faster approval of the medical drug or device, and thereby, a shorter time to the market and patient.

A: Scanning Electron Microscopy images of the P3D Scaffold at different magnifications ranging from 40 X to 15,000 X magnification. Images acquired by Luiz Eduardo Carneiro Campos and his research group at Fluminense Federal University, Brazil.
B: Scanning Electron Microscopy images of the P3D scaffold after culturing human osteoblasts on them for four weeks. Clear sheets of osteoblast-produced collagen are observed within the scaffold.

Bioceramics have revolutionized reconstructive bone surgery by allowing for better treatments, with lesser risk of adverse effects, for people with bone defects. By making the bioceramics printable, the entire patient experience is revolutionized – from fundamental research to clinical outcome.

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