Professor Susmita Bose uses 3D printing to make bone-like scaffolds from tricalcium phosphate. Credit: Washington State University; YouTube.
We’ve written several posts recently on additive manufacturing of ceramics for heavy manufacturing (investment casting molds) and artistic designs (espresso coffee cups). New work by a Washington State University group further demonstrates the utility of rapid manufacturing techniques for fabricating bone-like scaffolds that could make it possible for surgeons to order custom engineered bone tissue one day.
Professor Susmita Bose’s group uses a commercial printer to build tricalcium phosphate parts with interconnecting porosity. According to the press release, “Paired with actual bone, it acts as a scaffold for new bone to grow on and ultimately dissolves with no apparent ill effects.”
In their paper, the group reports on the effects of doping the TCP with silica and zinc oxide in the amounts of 0.5 wt. percent and 0.25 wt. percent, respectively. The doped-composition scaffolds were more dense than the undoped by a few percent (~94 percent vs. ~91 percent dense). The dopants also slowed down the beta to alpha phase transformation, which more than doubled the compressive strength after sintering.
In vitro tests showed that the doped scaffolds “facilitated faster cell proliferation when compared to pure TCP scaffolds.”
In the YouTube video, Bose says “The way I envision it is, ten to twenty years down the line, physicians and surgeons, should be able to use this type of scaffold—bone scaffolds—along with some bone growth factors… for different types of bone disorder fixation.”
The paper is “Effects of silica and zinc oxide doping on mechanical and biological properties of 3D printed tricalcium phosphate tissue engineering scaffolds,” Gary A. Fielding, Amit Bandyopadhyay, Susmita Bose, Dental Materials (doi:10.1016/j.dental.2011.09.01)