Prosthetics is a complex and personal thing. Prosthetics are often crafted and tailored to the specific needs of each individual. The use of additive manufacturing in this area is evident from a 3D-printed nose developed by Swansea University. Bonus? It’s vegan, too!
Often, cartilage from the ribcage is used when reconstructing a patient’s nose. This procedure can be invasive and cause health complications. The use of a nanocellulose-hydrogel made from pulped hardwood combined with hyaluronic is a more viable material to print a scaffold that can support cartilage cells. To populate the scaffold with cartilage, patients’ own cells can be used. The technique won’t just be limited to nose reconstructions, either. The technique could be used to reconstruct other cartilage-based tissues, like the ear.
As with any new medical technology, the road is long. The material’s biocompatibility is of primary concern, especially in relation to the immune system. However, the basic idea is one that’s being pursued in earnest by researchers around the world, whether for cosmetic purposes or to grow entire organs. As always, if you’re secretly 3D printing functional gallbladders in your basement, don’t hesitate to drop us a line.