Japanese concept and research brings 3D printed bones closer to becoming a medical standard.
Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), in cooperation with RIKEN, Tokyo University, and NEXT 21 K.K. (a Japanese medical technology research company), have developed a special 3D printer that is exclusively built to print artificial bones. The collaborative group had already filed an application for the concept’s approval at the Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA), in hopes of being able to make the technology commercially available as early as 2015.
The 3D printer is capable of producing artificial bones that are detail accurate by up to 0.1 mm. The printing material of the 3D printer is calcium phosphate, which is a major component of bones and teeth. This makes the 3D printed bones easier to integrate into the patient’s body. The improved detail allows it to mold perfectly to where it is positioned, while the calcium phosphate material could simply fuse with the patient’s natural bones eventually as the body acclimates to its use.
The method used by the 3D printer to fabricate the bone structure does not require fusing the raw material using heat. This prevents certain medical complications usually caused by microscopic imperfections that might hinder the artificial bone from adhering normally to natural bone.
After the evaluation period, which is projected to take around a year, NEXT 21 K.K. plans to make the technology commercially available in Japan first, then slowly proceeding to other nearby Asian countries, until the technology reaches the larger global market.
Source: NEDO (JP)