Now, artificial bone printing has been made possible by experts at MIT. Basically, It is made of collagen protein, which is elastic in nature and hydroxyapatite minerals that give it the strength thus is making it flexible for movement, it is 22 times as strong as its constituent materials. All the components are so well blended that they are perfect to support heavy loads.
This research has been carried out by Markus Buehler MIT civil engineering professor and his team. They are working on 3D printing techniques for quite some time and has worked with various polymers and synthetic materials etc. The geometric patterns used are also inspired from the naturally occurring materials like real bones or nacre with some additions to the design. This work has been published in Advance Functional Materials.
Bones have a sophisticated design that proved difficult to emulate in a laboratory. The process of bone formation occurs in hierarchal layers and has a structure that varies at each level. For example: Cortical bone is the solid that forms the outside of shafts and consists of bundles of concentric bone layers each containing a microscopic canal. Similarly, Trabecular bone, which is also known as spongy bone appears to be a chaotic mesh upon close inspection but is structurally optimized to bear weight.
Multiple trials and tests were carried out on it to check its strength, after the new bone was created out of the new materials. Results showed that the new invention was highly resistant to fractures and thus could withhold great amount of stress. Most importantly, the experiments confirmed the computational prediction of the bonelike specimen exhibiting the largest fracture resistance.
No doubt as engineers we are no longer limited to the natural patterns. Now, we can design our own designs, which may perform even better than the ones that already exist. 3-D structure printing using a combination of polymers could have a range of applications from artificial bone grafts to printing entire buildings: brick by brick.
Well, it is still unlikely that the 3D printed bone will be out in the market anytime soon but we cannot ignore or underscore the significance it has brought to the field of 3D printing. I hope that such development keeps moving forward and we are able to find even better and efficient alternates to the already existing materials.