Tag Archives: Cornell
Business Cases for Medical 3D Printing, or Bioprinting
Two well-respected speakers in the medical 3D printing field presented today at the Inside 3D Printing conference.
Cornell Professor Lawrence J. Bonassar, Ph.D.
Cornell Professor Lawrence J. Bonassar presented about “3D Fabrication Technologies for Tissue Regeneration.” We wrote about Bonassar’s research in February when he published the concept of 3D printing a human ear.
In his presentation, Bonassar provided the crowded conference hall with an overview of the key bioprinting motivations and applications.
There are approximately 5 million surgeries per year in the US to replace damaged tissues. This is a huge market opportunity for synthetic, bioprinted implants. His team is already looking at research such as replacing spinal discs, demonstrated in rats and dogs, or growing organic tissue like a human ear.
During the Q&A, Bonassar was asked: “This is great research, but is there a way to accelerate it into the marketplace?” Bonassar immediately responded, “Yes, money. There are certain applications that are ready today but just need funding.”
Investors, are you listening?
Andy Christensen, Medical Modeling
The next speaker was Andy Christensen, owner of Denver-based Medical Modeling, who presented on “Industrial 3D Printing for Medical Devices.”
Christensen shared a wealth of examples and ideas, as well as practical commercial commentary, “The cost of surgery is roughly $100 per minute. That’s a business case for 3D printed medical implants.”
He described the current status of FDA approvals for polymeric systems made using 3D printing and additive manufacturing technologies. There are instrument components being cleared, dating back to dental implant drill guides 5 to 7 years ago. European regulation has historically been easier but that may not last.
The focus ahead will be on personalized surgery and efficiency. One example he described is virtual surgical planning, where a surgeon and engineer walk through a pre-operation plan together with sophisticated 3D models. This can save time, money, and reduce recovery time.
Very interesting presentation and clearly a growth area for investors to get involved!
A roundup of the top news On 3D Printing brought you from February 18 to February 24:
Wednesday, February 20
Lawrence Bonassar, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Cornell University, has been working to solve this problem by developing a “living ink” that can be used to 3D print the cartilage for a human ear. His research was published in the journal PLoS One and featured on NPR.
“The ear is really remarkable from a mechanical perspective,” says Lawrence Bonassar, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Cornell University who has been working with a group to develop a better replacement ear.
To make the ear, Bonassar and his colleagues scanned the ears of his twin daughters, who were 5 at the time. They used a 3-D printer to build a plastic mold based on the scan. Those printers, similar to a home inkjet, lately have also been adapted to experiment with making chocolate, guns, and even kidneys.
They then injected a soup of collagen, living cartilage cells, and culture medium. The soup congeals “like Jell-O,” Bonassar tells Shots. “All this happens quickly. You inject the mold, and in 15 minutes you have an ear ready to go.”
Well, not exactly. What they have is an ear-shaped chunk of cells that would have to be tucked under the skin on the side of the head by a plastic surgeon before it could become an ear.
To test whether their ear-mold would become living, useful ear cartilage, the researchers implanted samples under the skin on the back of laboratory rats. In three months, cartilage cells took over the collagen, making for a solid-yet-flexible chunk of cartilage that retained its precise shape and size.
Bonassar thinks this technology can be used in humans in 5 years, with any luck.
Below is a video featuring this amazing research.
Interest in 3D printing is increasing, and there are new programs introducing the technology into the classroom to encourage students to get exposure to the potential of 3D printing at an early age.
In a recent New York Times blog post following President Obama’s State of the Union address, the question was posed:
“Can the United States get a foothold in manufacturing one 3D printer at a time?”
The article continued to cite several examples of how education programs for 3D printing may make this reality.
First, the Creative Machine Labs at Cornell:
Hod Lipson, an associate professor and the director of the Creative Machines Lab at Cornell, said “3-D printing is worming its way into almost every industry, from entertainment, to food, to bio- and medical-applications.”
It won’t necessarily directly create manufacturing jobs, except perhaps for the printers themselves. Dr. Lipson, the co-author of “Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing,” said that the technology “is not going to simply replace existing manufacturing anytime soon.” But he said he believed that it would give rise to new businesses. “The bigger opportunity in the U.S. is that it opens and creates new business models that are based on this idea of customization.”
Second, new programs at the University of Virginia:
In addition to the lab that the president mentioned, a federally financed manufacturing innovation institute in Youngstown, Ohio, schools are embracing the technology. The University of Virginia has been working to introduce 3D printers into some programs from kindergarten through 12th grade in Charlottesville to prepare students for a new future in manufacturing.
“We have 3D printers in classrooms, and in one example, we’re teaching kids how to design and print catapults that they then analyze for efficiency,” said Glen L. Bull, professor and co-director of the Center for Technology and Teacher Education. “We believe that every school in America could have a 3D printer in the classroom in the next few years.”
The education system may want to speed things up. The time between predictions for 3D printers and the reality of what they can accomplish is compressing rapidly.
Read the full feature at the NYTimes blog.
NPR held a special radio feature on 3D printing during their Science Friday program. Ira Flatow interviewed industry consultant Terry Wohlers, MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis, and Cornell Associate Professor Hod Lipson.
What if you needed a new toothbrush and all you had to do was hit print? What if doctors could print out transplantable organs and pastry chefs turned to a printer, not a kitchen, for their next creation? Ira Flatow and a panel of guests discuss 3D printing technology, how far it’s come and what a 3D-printed-future could look like.
Topics ranged from basic background information to detailed questions. Read the highlights below and then listen to the full radio program.
What is 3D printing? What is the MakerBot?
Terry Wohlers and Bre Pettis gave a nice overview of what 3D printing is. Here is Bre’s explanation of what the MakerBot does.
The MakerBot replicator uses one of two plastics. You can either make things in ABS plastic, which is what LEGO is made out of, or you can use PLA, which is the plastic that’s made from corn. And then you get your plastic on spools, and it kind of looks like a big spool of spaghetti.
And the spaghetti goes into the machine, and it draws a picture in plastic, and then it goes up a little bit, and layer after layer, it creates your model, and you can really create anything.
All the tools for designing things are becoming democratized. So 3D printing is getting democratized, the tools that make things are getting easier. You can use things like Tinkercad, which is free and online, and you’re off to the races and making things.
Will everyone have a 3D printer?
Comparisons were made to inkjets and microwaves. When first introduced into the market, these products were expensive and unfamiliar, but now they are common home appliances.
Even if, in the future, everyone does not have a 3D printer in the home, the experts suggested that people will have access to a 3D printer and will buy parts manufactured locally by a nearby 3D printer.
Can body parts be 3D printed?
It will happen in our lifetime. We are already 3D printing a replacement knee meniscus and have prototyped bone and organs.
Are there any limits to 3D printing?
For the first time in human history, making something complex with details that cannot be manufacturing through traditional processes is as simple as making a paperweight.
Current consumer machines are limited in size. MakerBot can print objects up to the size of a loaf of bread. But there are professional printers that can make much larger objects.
Hod Lipson’s team has a goal to print a robot, batteries included, that can walk off the printer.
The experts agreed that 3D printing will let us think about new breakthroughs in product design.
Culture of Sharing
The 3D printing community is very collaborative and are building off of each other’s successes. This allows for continuous innovation through a culture of sharing.
Science museum photo by chooyutshing used under Creative Commons license.