Archive for the ‘Medicine’ Category

Researchers improve bioprinting resolution

Researchers in the UK have made significant strides in bioprinting resolution. Photo by Alexander D. Graham.

Scientists at the University of Oxford and the University of Bristol in the UK have developed an improved method of bioprinting that allows for the resolution needed to produce functioning organ creation. In an article in Scientific Reports, authors Alexander D. Graham, Sam N. Olof, Madeline J. Burke, James P. K. Armstrong, Ellina A. Mikhailova, James G. Nicholson, Stuart J. Box, Francis G. Szele, Adam W. Perriman, and Hagan Bayley have introduced a method of printing living tissue with the use of a pipette that allows for 200 micron and under resolution clarity and were able to produce materials with 90% viability.

The research, led by the Bayley Research Group and School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, was able to produce human embryonic kidney (HEK) cells and sheep stem cells (oMSCs), wherein delicate constructs such as cartilage were successfully accomplished.

According to Dr. Alexander Graham of Oxford University, “To date, there are limited examples of printed tissues, which have the complex cellular architecture of native tissues. Hence, we focused on designing a high-resolution cell printing platform, from relatively inexpensive components, that could be used to reproducibly produce artificial tissues with appropriate complexity from a range of cells including stem cells.”

For more on this story, see the article at 3DPrinting

The University of Bristol was in the news last year for improvements they made to bioinks.

3D-printed device can be made for $550

Turn a smartphone into a portable health lab

Spectral transmission-reflectance-intensity (TRI) analyzers are devices costing thousands of dollars. Their purpose is to provide a number of diagnostic health tests including, to name a few, detection of various proteins and antibodies in a blood sample, pre-term birth biomarkers in pregnant women, and evidence of PKU in newborns. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been able to provide, through the use of a 3D printer, a way of turning a smartphone into a TRI analyzer for the production cost of $550.

The brainchild of Brian Cunningham, a professor of bioengineering and electrical and computer engineering at UI, the newly devised device will not only be able to provide a low-cost alternative to expensive blood, urine, and saliva tests in developing countries, but may even bring efficiency to modern labs as the smartphone’s LED flash and camera is able to test multiple samples at once.

The announcement of the device first appeared in the scientific journal Lab on a Chip. An article detailing the report has appeared at the site In the report, developers are pointing out that their device may have broader applications in the field for the purpose of animal health applications, environmental monitoring, drug testing, food safety, and even manufacturing quality control.

Cunningham explains, “Our TRI Analyzer is like the Swiss Army knife of biosensing. It’s capable of performing the three most common types of tests in medical diagnostics, so in practice, thousands of already-developed tests could be adapted to it.”

For more details on the new device, see this article at

The Daily 3D Detail: How safe are 3D printer plastics?

Posted by Editor On August - 4 - 2017

How Safe are 3D Printer Plastics?

VOCs produced by melting ABS, PLA, nylon and PET.

According to a recent privately-funded study conducted in Poland on the dangers of heated thermoplastics ABS, PLA, PET, and nylon, the risk to human health is nominal, and even in the case of ABS, is well under the prescribed exposure limitations of work safety organizations. (Above image courtesy of The Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.)

According to the authors of the study, Szymon Wojtyła, Piotr Klama, and Tomasz Baran:

“The conducted study has shown that ABS is significantly more toxic than PLA. The emission of volatile organic compounds (VOC) has been in the range of 0.50 µmol/h. Styrene has accounted for more than 30% of total VOC emitted from ABS, while for PLA, methyl methacrylate has been detected as the predominant compound (44% of total VOCs emission).

According to the World Health Organization, a report on the danger of inhaled plastic gasses, toxicity occurs at higher temperatures and in environments without adequate ventilation. The report outlines specific data on methyl methacrylate (MMA), the most prominent Volatile organic compounds (VOC) in PLA:

“The acute toxicity of methyl methacrylate is low. Irritation of the skin, eye, and nasal cavity has been observed in rodents and rabbits exposed to relatively high concentrations of methyl methacrylate. The chemical is a mild skin sensitizer in animals. The effect observed most frequently at lowest concentration after repeated inhalation exposure to methyl methacrylate is irritation of the nasal cavity. Effects on the kidney and liver at higher concentrations have also been reported. The lowest reported effect level for inhalation was 410 mg/m3 in rats exposed to methyl methacrylate for 2 years (based upon inflammatory degeneration of the nasal epithelium); the no-observed-effect level (NOEL) in this investigation was approximately 100 mg/m3.”

While the recent study recommends implementation of better filtering systems into future desktop FDM 3D printers for added safety, the results clearly indicate that under normal print operations, the exposure danger to operators fall well below any danger levels.

For more on the story, see this article at

Ceramics May Mean End to Animal Testing

According to the International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technologies, 3D-printed ceramics may mean the end to animal testing.

By providing the ideal biosurface for cellular growth, 3D-printed ceramics are proving to be superior lab tools over animal testing in giving scientists direct genetic material to apply to their tests. The benefit is from the singularly successful 3D design and the ceramic material it is printed on, allowing the proper scaffolding for biological growth, wherein researchers can do their tests for specific results and thereby avoid unnecessary suffering to living creatures from chemical tests.

Ceramics May Mean End to Animal Testing

The 3D printed design is in a clover leaf configuration of four “petals,” centered around a delicately printed square scaffold system.

The authors of the study have stated: “The microsystem obtained provides one of the most remarkable examples of monolithic bio-microsystems and, to our knowledge, a step forward in the field of ceramic microsystems with complex geometries for lab-on-chip and organ-on-chip applications.”

“Cell culture results help to highlight the potential of the proposed approach and the adequacy of using ceramic materials for biological applications and for interacting at a cellular level.”

For on the story, visit this page at

The Daily 3D Detail: Low cost prosthetics

Posted by Taila Rodrigues On July - 29 - 2017

The Daily 3D Detail: Low cost prosthetics

For many people who are born without or have lost limbs, finding suitable prostheses is a great challenge, as the high costs of the devices and the low chances of getting help are great barriers for those who have limited financial resources.

However it is possible to make prostheses much cheaper with a help of 3D printing.

Although this technology is still relatively new, 3D-printed prostheses are already more affordable than traditional prosthetics, as it is possible to publish devices quickly at a low cost which can be retrofitted and improved on the fly. In addition, the ease of customization in the manufacturing method contributes to a specific patient adaptation and a comfortable fit.

The Daily 3D Detail: Low cost prosthetics

Unlike conventional dentures that can cost around $5,000, an impressive prosthesis would cost 1% of that value. Of course, these prostheses in question may be relatively primitive — giving only basic movement for a missing hand — there are projects that demonstrate an influence by robotics, making the possibilities unlimited only by its resources.

The success of this 3D printing technology in medicine is already something concrete, as existing 3D prosthetics have demonstrated an effectiveness above expectations that will soon be available to the world’s poorest sufferers.

Thanks to the E-nable Project, having access to a prosthesis is already a reality for many people. E-nable is using 3D printing to “Give the World a Helping Hand”. They are volunteers in a worldwide network of people from different cultures, visions, and inspirations who have come together to offer cost-free printed dentures to anyone who needs it.

For more information about the E-nable Project and how to become a volunteer, visit the link

The Daily 3D Detail: 3D printing gives hope to Nepal’s community

Posted by Franka Schoening On July - 21 - 2017

Matthew Rockwell with one of his patients in Nepal. Photo courtesy of

Using your talents to do good in the world is what we all strive for. One tech company, Disaster Hack, a San Francisco- based non-profit led by Matthew Rockwell, is using its 3D printing expertise to help Nepalis affected with disabilities. In 2015, after a big earthquake shook the country, Rockwell brought a 3D printer to Kathmandu. His goal was to manufacture low-cost prosthesis for victims of the disaster, or illness. 3D printing will be a game changer for the critically underfunded Nepali health sector by reducing costs significantly. Limited to hands at the moment, the company nevertheless has identified 7,000 people that could benefit from the $30 functional prothesis. In the future, Disaster Hack hopes to use recycled plastic bottles as filament to expand their impact without requiring more funding, while positively impacting the environment.

Furthermore, Rockwell has trained 20 prosthetists at Nepali hospitals and is currently setting up a biomedical printing lab in Kathmandu’s largest university. These actions will create independent growth for the nation through jobs and manufacturing. Read the whole article here and find even more info at


The Daily 3D Detail: How a 3D printed model saved a woman’s life

Posted by Franka Schoening On July - 13 - 2017

A 60-year old woman, who admitted to Rashid Hospital in Dubai for cerebral bleeding, was successfully treated with the help of 3D printing. An x-ray showed cerebral aneurysm in four veins – a complex surgery. A 3D model of her brain helped doctors figure out how to reach each clocked vein before starting the rare procedure, resulting in a considerable risk reduction for the patient and cost savings for the hospital.

3D printed model of a brain

The surgery took six hours and was considered a success. Without access to the model, the surgery is estimated to take longer and pose a higher risk for the patient. The used model was constructed by 3DVinci Creations, a local Dubai 3D printing company. Providing dimensional perspective, the model allowed for a an increasingly accurate diagnosis and enabled pre-planning of the procedure, based on patient-specific anatomy. Read the full article at



People Resting Easy Thanks to 3D Printing

Posted by Fred Kaplan On April - 24 - 2017

People Resting Easy Thanks to 3D Printing

Medical start-up turns to 3D printing for customized CPAP masks

By Fred Kaplan

Since the dawn of 3D printing when the first primordial plastic oozed on a build plate, 3D printing has offered the possibility of individually customized production. The promise of the technology is that it will alter traditional shipping and manufacturing methods on a scale we can yet barely imagine. Metamason is a Los Angeles-based medical industry start-up contributing to the landscape of on-demand devices by manufacturing personalized, custom-fit respiratory masks using 3D scanning and printing.

Sleep apnea is a disorder disrupting a person’s breathing during sleep. It is usually treated with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy. Though CPAP is highly effective, generations of sleep apnea sufferers have struggled with poorly fitting and uncomfortable generic masks at night. Now, Metamason has introduced “Miia,” a mask designed for the unique contours of an individual’s face. Created using virtual scanning and 3D printing, Miia is a soft, flexible mask with a digitally accurate fit.

People Resting Easy Thanks to 3D Printing

Metamason’s online app walks the user through the creation of a custom-fit CPAP mask, incorporating 3D scan data of the patient’s face. After the process is completed, the manufacturing files are instantly printed on 3D printers and shipped to the customer.

We spoke with Leslie Oliver Karpas, founder and CEO of Metamason, to discuss the process of using additive manufacturing to produce an FDA-approved product by starting-up a digital manufacturing company.

3D Printr Magazine: How did you get started in 3D?

Leslie Oliver Karpas: I started using 3ds Max (Autodesk) and Poser (Smith Micro) to create 3D models in junior high school. I got good enough that after high school, I was hired by a local architectural firm to model building designs. One day they printed one of my 8-inch models on their StrataSyS Dimension printer. I was awestruck. The power of seeing that first 3D print still inspires me and is why I am doing what I am doing today.

3D Printr Magazine: How did Metamason get started?

Leslie Oliver Karpas: My late father struggled with conventional CPAP therapy, and during my education at Art Center College of Design, it struck me as one of many medical devices that would profoundly benefit from 3D customization. I founded Metamason in 2013 with two friends who brought a lot of invaluable industry experience to bear. The first two years of the company were furious R&D. We stretched our knowledge and imaginations in the very beginning. We had an idea of where we wanted to go but we had no idea how we were going to get there.

We tried every 3D printer we could get our hands on; we tried every soluble printing material in the catalogue. In order to get FDA approval, the 3D-printed material has to be as similar to the existing products as possible. We knew that we would eventually be custom-casting medical-grade silicone, a process we had to develop ourselves. Fortunately, Metamason is now being incubated by 3D Systems, which has one of the most advanced 3D printing labs in the world.

3D Printr Magazine: Getting FDA approval sounds difficult.

Leslie Oliver Karpas: Our original idea was to print the masks directly in PVA or HIPS materials, which are commonly used as FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling—a standard extrusion 3D printer) support materials; we developed a process for dissolving one of the materials away and using the remaining material for a mold to pour the silicone in. The problem ended up being that the print had too low a resolution, and getting the PVA or HIPS support materials to print the way we wanted was nearly impossible. The difference in temperatures required to print the materials was too extreme.

We then worked with Scion Technology on our next attempt, using 3D Systems’ multi-jet wax printers, CPX 3600. Our plan was to use the wax as mold material in which medical grade silicone is to be formed. The process was successful and had incredibly high print resolution, but it was too expensive for our application. However, it gave us a true proof of concept and a prototype, which got us funded.

We ended up using the ProX 950 SLA at 3D Systems’ 70,000 square foot facility in Golden, Colorado, which was built specifically for 3D printer Class I (minimal risk) to Class III (highest risk) medical devices in accordance with FDA and MDD regulations. The facility is climate controlled and air-locked and each printing technology such as SLA, SLS, multi-jet modeling and color jet has its own controlled environment. We SLA (stereolithography) print a shell with a process we co-developed with 3D Systems. The final masks use multiple SLA components and SLS (selective laser sinter) printed parts.

People Resting Easy Thanks to 3D Printing

Metamason’s scanner for custom-fitting CPAP devices

3D Printr Magazine: Tell me about your 3D scanning workflow?

Leslie Oliver Karpas: Of course, the 3D scanning aspect is its own ball of wax. We are using Intel’s RealSense scanner. The RealSense scanner libraries, which are built into the developer kit, allow the scanner to interact with the JavaScript on our site. Then the JavaScript communicates with our backend which processes all our data. It has been a challenging process and an extremely valuable learning experience. Landmark identification is what we are concerned with—identifying the nose, mouth, and nostrils—so we can orient our product correctly on the face. Our code goes from a 3D scanner to a 3D customization runtime to a HIPAA-compliant packet. Since we are working with a medical device, our data needs to be encrypted and tightly controlled from a security standpoint, which adds another layer of complexity.

3D Printr Magazine: If you were starting now with the knowledge you gained, what would you do differently?

Leslie Oliver Karpas: We spent a lot of time trying to make an FDM printer work in the process. I still believe that FDM’s potential is underrated, and our experimentation with it resulted in high-quality FDM parts we are using as components of our product today, but to use FDM effectively to create a complete product like ours, we would need to build customized multi-nozzle printers and 5- and 6-axis printers. It was exciting to learn about the possibilities for using FDM in these advanced ways, but our situation is more complicated because whatever process we commit to has to be approved by the FDA. The printer itself has be ISO-certified with tight controls on where the printer is and who is operating it. So we want to be able to use existing medical-grade-certified printing facilities if possible, rather than developing our own proprietary printers.

3D Printr Magazine: How have your investors reacted to the 3D-printing aspect of your company?

Leslie Oliver Karpas: 3D printing used to be a draw for all types of investors, but now it’s scaring a lot of them away. The consumer 3D printing market collapsed aggressively for investors last year, and a lot of start-ups went down with it. It might have been healthy for the industry as a whole, but a lot of people lost money when companies who had promised the moon failed to deliver. Medical and aerospace [production] is where we find the money is being made, and even in those fields, it takes a certain kind of investor to recognize which projects are using the technology in ways that are truly innovative and cost-effective. At Metamason, we are looking for investors who are comfortable with medical devices, not scared of 3D printing, and understand the advantages of 3D digital asset workflow. We are uniting Machine Vision with web-based 3D customization and a HIPAA-compliant, FDA-approved manufacturing pipeline for silicone goods which, when put together, become a platform to make individualized silicone objects for medical devices and other functions. Once we get to market in this medical vertical, we are looking forward to expanding into other verticals.

One of the things we are most excited about is the promise of the 3D Systems Figure 4 technology, which combines robotics with high-speed SLA printing. Figure 4 will be ideal for our process since a robotic arm will take the completed print into any number of processes that are robotically controlled.

3D Printr Magazine: What first step would you recommend to someone just starting out with a 3D printer?

Leslie Oliver Karpas: If someone is just starting in the 3D space, I would encourage them to learn a scripting language like JavaScript 3D or WebGL, or both preferably, and pick up a plug-in for Rhino called Grasshopper 3D. Grasshopper 3D is a visual programming language which allows you to do generative design and algorithm-based design. The future is going to be programmatic design, script-generative design and algorithm-based design where scanned input goes into a 3D space, and a design process reacts and formats itself based on the input—meaning, the design resizes itself to user preferences, or in our case, user anatomy. I suspect that the utility of static 3D models will quickly be eclipsed by that of dynamic models built by algorithms. I find that Grasshopper3D is the best sketch tool for this purpose, because it gives you figuring information during the design process. I find it to be useful for everything from a skyscraper to a CPAP mask.

3D Printr Magazine: Where does coding come into play with 3D printing?

Leslie Oliver Karpas: Using Rhino as the CAD program we call “command with code.” We need to do a lot of JavaScript-based commands for Grasshopper3D to behave properly. I recommended basic computer science fundamentals with geometry fundamentals. As a company that is hiring, we have had a hard time finding enough people who combine these skills.

3D Printr Magazine: Do you think there will ever be a 3D printer that will allow you to directly print a CPAP mask?

Leslie Oliver Karpas: That’s difficult to answer. The printer would have to be a multi-material printer, probably purposefully built for our process. Carbon 3D offers excellent materials that possesses the characteristics to directly print our masks, but how do you get the support structure—the mold—off of the printed product? The support will be as durable as the part itself. You could cut it off, but you can’t sand down silicone, which will make it difficult to remove the support and give the part a finished surface. The only way to 3D-print a CPAP mask directly would be to combine a sacrificial support structure with the silicone material. The support structure would have to be biocompatible. Maybe the 3D manufacturing company Collider could do it. If someone came up with a dissolvable sinterable material, that would help. Its seems to me that the fixation of manufacturers on producing end-user parts directly off the print bed does a disservice to technology which would be better served focusing on specific functional tools that work better. I think making parts that are printed to be tools or fixtures or jigs are the best use of 3D printing—especially when you get into sacrificial materials for molds like the ones we are using—which enable fabrication techniques that can’t be done with traditional manufacturing.

For more on Metamason, its job openings and investment opportunities, visit For more on the combined machining of 3D-printed molds and individually-produced silicone parts, see our story on Chattanooga, Tennessee-based company Collider.

Fred Kaplan is a 3D-printing material specialist, who has worked with SLA, SLS, FDM, ColorJet, ADAM, DLP, LOM, FFF, MultiJet, Polyjet, and SDL 3D printers. Specializing in matching the best technology to a particular 3D printing application, he has also worked with many brands of 3D scanners and many CAD packages.

Prior to his work in additive manufacturing, Fred received a Los Angeles area Emmy and other awards for documentary filmmaking.

Electrospinning Device May Improve Quality of Bioprinting

Posted by Editor On October - 18 - 2016

Electrospinning Device May Improve Quality of Bioprinting

3DMedNet is reporting on developments in the bioprinting process

Peter Brown, writing for 3DMEdNet reports on a collaboration between the University Medical Center Utrecht (Utrecht, The Netherlands) and regenHU (Villaz-St-Pierre, Switzerland) which may result in stronger and more accurate 3D bioprinted tissues via a new electrospinning device incorporating bioinks.

According to Brown, “The device combines bioinks with electrospinning to precisely produce complex, mechanically strong and stable tissues. The electrospinning element allows the fabrication of ultrafine and durable fibers that can be arranged into defined structures, and bioinks, which can be printed into specific shapes or tissue constructs for drug testing or tissue engineering.”

For the full story see: To read more, visit the source story from UMC Utrecht:

Advances with Hydroxyapatite

Posted by Editor On August - 31 - 2016

Advances with Hydroxyapatite

French company 3DCeram has produced a printer that creates ceramic prostheses used in skull repair

Hydroxyapatite is an osteoconductive 3D-printing material. It promotes bone growth with 60% porosity and has no body rejection. is reporting on the developments of French company 3DCeram, in collaboration with Limoges University Hospital, in providing alternatives to bone grafts in reconstructive skull surgery. 3DCeram has created a printer called Ceremaker capable of delivering cranial prostheses using hydroxyapatite and photopolymers. Once printed and allowed to harden, the prosthesis is then cured into a ceramic.

The process is heralded as a much needed remedy to the painful suffering of the patient who loses bodily material for the graft. The merits of having articulated replacement parts designed specifically for the patient are astounding.

The cost of the printer is $327,000 and prostheses can be printed for as little as $12,000. To see the story, visit: