A coat of diamonds could make implants more biocompatible

Diamonds are forever but our bodies can barely last a century. We break down, tear up, and eventually decay. Along our way from dust to dust, surgeons try to help keep us intact as best they can, often with implants to keep our physical selves together. But our bodies are fastidious things and have to be tricked into letting foreign objects stay, which can complicate biomedical implants, typically made of titanium and occasionally rejected by the body.

Now researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University may have devised a way to better coerce the body to accept implants, with a strategy that includes 3D-printing diamond-coated devices. It may sound like a luxury afforded only to the materialistic few but it could actually make implants more accessible and biocompatible.

“3D printing of metals for medical implants is quickly becoming commonplace,” Kate Fox, the RMIT biomedical engineer who led the research, told Digital Trends. “Everyone wants to have an implant that fits their bodies. As a result, many researchers are designing complicated implants which can be 3D-printed specific to need. That is, if you want a hip implant, it can be made the same size and shape as your damaged hip. Titanium which is the most common material used for medical implants, as it is inert with the body. This means though that the cells inside the body and the bone won’t ever grow onto it. By adding a diamond coating, we now provide a carbon coating … which the cells can interact with, whilst keeping the personalized 3D-printed shape.”

3D printing has helped create things like complex art and yachts, but some of the most life-changing applications have been made in biotech, where the relatively cheap process makes implants and bionic limbs accessible to those who may not otherwise have them. The method proposed by Fox and her team would entail coating titanium implants with a film of diamonds to be more biocompatible.

“Carbon is 20 percent of the human body,” Fox said. “As such, diamond, which is also carbon, provides a material that the body will readily accept as its own. This means that the body will be less likely to try and remove it. We therefore believe that rejection will be reduced and post-surgical complications due to material compatibility will be ameliorated.”

The diamond that would cover an implant is not the kind that has to be mined. Fox and her colleagues propose synthetic diamonds, made from concentrated carbon called nanodiamonds, that have been chemically altered to form a film and coated onto a 3D-printed titanium part in a plasma microwave.

There is still plenty of work ahead before patients can expect to have diamond-coated implants. Fox and her team need to run pre-clinical and clinical trials, but hope this technology will make it to the market in the next five years.

A paper detailing the research was published last month in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.

Giveaways

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.
Emerging Tech

Capture app saves money by 3D scanning objects using iPhone’s TrueDepth camera

Capture is a new iPhone app created by the Y Combinator-backed startup Standard Cyborg. It allows anyone to perform 3D scans of objects and share them with buddies. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers of 2018

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Product Review

AKG's signature studio sound goes straight to your head with these stunning cans

With gorgeous looks and great sound, AKG’s N700NC are a formidable entry into the wireless noise-canceling headphone race. We put them to the test to see if they can beat out the absolute best in the business.
Emerging Tech

Thrill-seekers will be able to pilot themselves in a giant drone as soon as 2019

Want to hitch a ride on a giant drone? The startup Lift Aircraft is gearing up to let paying customers fly its 18-rotor giant drones over assorted scenic landscapes across the U.S.
Emerging Tech

CRISPR gene therapy regulates hunger, staves off severe obesity in mice

Researchers from UC San Francisco have demonstrated how CRISPR gene editing can be used to prevent severe obesity in mice, without making a single edit to the mouse's genome. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Rise of the Machines: Here’s how much robots and A.I. progressed in 2018

2018 has generated no shortage of news, and the worlds of A.I. and robotics are no exception. Here are our picks for the most exciting, game changing examples of both we saw this year.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Emerging Tech

Parker Solar Probe captures first image from within the atmosphere of the sun

NASA has shared the first image from inside the atmosphere of the sun taken by the Parker Solar Probe. The probe made the closest ever approach to a star, gathering data which scientists have been interpreting and released this week.
Emerging Tech

Say cheese: InSight lander posts a selfie from the surface of Mars

NASA's InSight mission to Mars has commemorated its arrival by posting a selfie. The selfie is a composite of 11 different images which were taken by one of its instruments, the Instrument Deployment Camera.
Emerging Tech

Researchers create a flying wireless platform using bumblebees

Researchers at the University of Washington have come up with a novel way to create a wireless platform: using bumblebees. As mechanical drones' batteries run out too fast, the team made use of a biology-based solution using living insects.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

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

Bright ‘hyperactive’ comet should be visible in the sky this weekend

An unusual green comet, 46P/Wirtanen, will be visible in the night sky this month as it makes its closest approach to Earth in 20 years. It may even be possible to see the comet without a telescope.
Emerging Tech

Gorgeous images show storms and cloud formations in the atmosphere of Jupiter

NASA's Juno mission arrived at Jupiter in 2016 and has been collecting data since then. NASA has shared an update on the progress of the mission as it reaches its halfway point, releasing stunning images of the planet as seen from orbit.