Mixing naturally occurring vitamin B2 into the liquid used in 3-D printers eliminates the toxicity commonly found in the printed objects, a new study finds, taking medicine one step closer to using 3-D printing to create medical implants.
"This opens the door to a much wider range of biocompatible implant materials, which can be used to develop customized implant designs using 3-D printing technology," says senior study author Roger Narayan, a professor in the joint biomedical engineering department at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Laser Zentrum Hannover also participated in the research, which was published online in the November issue of the journal Regenerative Medicine.
The researchers mixed Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, with a liquid precursor material to make the material photoreactive, N.C. State said in an announcement. The riboflavin-enhanced material reacts with light in the printer, turning into a solid, nontoxic polymer building an object layer by layer.
Meanwhile, a startup company is using 3-D printing to make rubbery surgical robots that reduce damage to tissue during surgery. Soft Robotics Inc. uses technology developed by Harvard University's Whitesides Research Group to make a "squishy, X-shaped quadruped" printed out of stretch plastics called elastomers.
And Intermountain Healthcare has created a lab at its flagship hospital in Murray, Utah, using 3-D printers to create prototype medical devices, among other innovations.