Engineers have found a way to 3D print more realistic bones for medical use

For medical researchers, the long-term goal of 3D printing is to be able to bioprint complete, fully functional organs which could be transplanted into patients. In the shorter term, additive manufacturing is being used to create medical implants that — while smaller in size and scale — can still have a significant health benefit for patients. One of these areas is the creation of artificial bone grafts, which are traditionally made by physicians by taking real bone fragments from one part of the body and transposing it to another.

A new research project carried out at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan School of Engineering has another solution to the problem. What researcher Hossein Montazerian and colleagues have developed is a new artificial bone design which can be custom-printed using a 3D printer to result in stronger, safer and more effective bone replacements.

“When a bone loss occurs due to fracture, tumor, or otherwise, the doctor may decide to replace or fill the damaged area with a biologically compatible material,” Montazerian told Digital Trends. “These porous bone replacements — which mimic the porous structure of human bone — can be specifically designed based on the patient’s bone shape and fit with the damaged bone.”

Montazerian’s design for the material takes inspiration from patterns that exist in nature to architect a porous structure similar to real bones. “From those patterns, we identified the most suitable ones in terms of the design criteria for bone replacements — strength, stiffness, and porosity — through massive computer simulations for a big library of pore architectures,” he said.

The best designs Montazerian discovered were up to 10 times stronger than the others and had properties very similar to natural bones — which he hopes means that they will be less likely to cause problems over time. The research is not finished yet and no final material has been produced, but the results are highly promising.

“In this research, we focused on the structures in which the geometric features were uniform all over the scaffold,” Montazerian said. “Later we hope to introduce the next generation of scaffolds in which the features of pore architecture, such as porosity or pore shape, smoothly changes to further make its mechanical and biological responses close to the natural bone.”

A paper describing the research was recently published in the journal Materials & Design.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Warm ski beanie instantly hardens into a head-protecting helmet upon impact

Wool hats are way more comfortable than hard helmets. You know what they're not? Safer. That could soon change, thanks to an innovative new ski beanie which instantly hardens upon impact.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

This exotic new material somehow gets thicker when stretched

Scientists at the U.K.’s University of Leeds have discovered a synthetic material which actually gets thicker the more it’s stretched. Here are some of the things it could be used for.

Give your eyes a break with these handy blue light filters

Filtering blue light from your monitor is a great way to make long days of work easier on your eyes, especially when it gets later in the day. You can use ones built into MacOS and Windows, or one of the third-party options.
Emerging Tech

New experiment casts doubt on claims to have identified dark matter

A South Korean experiment called COSINE-100 has attempted to replicate the claims of dark matter observed by the Italian DAMA/LIBRA experiment, but has failed to replicate the observations.
Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.

Print your heart’s desire: Enter our giveaway to win a free Monoprice 3D printer

We’re giving away a $400 Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer. It's easy to use, especially for beginners, with its simple menu system and touchscreen display. It comes fully assembled so you can spend more time printing instead of setting up.