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Surprising Science

3-D Printer Makes New Bones

A 3D printer is being used to create ‘bone-like’ material which researchers claim can be used to repair injuries. The material would act like scaffolding on which new cells would grow.

What’s the Latest Development?

3D printers have been used to create bone-like material which researchers say could aid in repairing injuries. The new material would act like scaffolding, promoting the growth of new cells and then dissolve away with no ill-effects. Professor Susmita Bose, who helped carry out the work at Washington State University, has been at work on the material for four years. A breakthrough came recently when she found a way to double the strength of the main ceramic powdercalcium phosphateby adding silica and zinc oxide.

What’s the Big Idea?

Within just a few years, doctors could use the printing technique to custom-order replacement of bone tissue. “Tests carried on immature foetal bone cells in the laboratory found that new bone cells started growing over the scaffold within the first week of it being attached.” Dr. Bose predicts that within a decade or two, doctors will be able use artificial bone from 3D printers as scaffolds, along with bone growth factors, to repair anything from a broken jaw to a broken spine.

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