Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have created blood vessels using the 3D printer.
The team is looking at ways of overcoming barriers to creating tissues and organs in the laboratory for transplanting to people. One of the biggest obstacles is to find a way to manufacture a vascular system to supply nutrients to these laboratory organs.
The 3D printer was used to build a network of blood vessels layer by layer, chemically bonding them by exposing them to UV radiation. Then the finer capillary vessels are created using a two-photon polymerisation process to create a fine elastic structure.
Dr Guntar Tovar who leads the project said that the two manufacturing processes have already proved to function successfully in testing and a combined system is now being built.
“We are establishing a basis for applying rapid prototyping to elastic and organic biomaterials. The vascular systems illustrate very dramatically what opportunities this technology has to offer, but that’s definitely not the only thing possible,” he said.
Creating organs for transplants is still a long way off, but if successful the technology could be used to create artificial vessels for bypass patients and more complex organs to replace animal testing.
The initial results of the project will be on show at the Biotechnica Fair in Hannover, Germany on 11-13 October.
Article courtesy of UK PrintWeek