Additive Manufacturing – organ transplantation
What is Additive manufacturing? How is it revolutionizing organ transplantation?
Introduction: (up to 30 words) Explain Additive manufacturing technology
Body: (up to 100 words) Explain the application of Additive Manufacturing in the field of medicine and the possibilities involved.
Conclusion: (up to 30 words) Mention the advantages of this Technology and why it is imperative for India to research/invest in such Technology
Additive Manufacturing refers to a process by which digital 3D design data is used to build up a component in layers by deposing material. The term "3D printing" is increasingly used as a synonym for Additive Manufacturing. However, the latter is more accurate in that it describes a professional production technique which is clearly distinguished from conventional methods of material removal. Instead of milling a workpiece from solid block, for example, Additive Manufacturing builds up components layer by layer using materials which are available in fine powder form. A range of different metals, plastics and composite materials may be used.
How does additive manufacturing work?
The term “additive manufacturing” references technologies that grow three-dimensional objects one superfine layer at a time. Each successive layer bonds to the preceding layer of melted or partially melted material. It is possible to use different substances for layering material, including metal powder, thermoplastics, ceramics, composites, glass, human tissues and even edibles like chocolate.
Objects are digitally defined by computer-aided-design (CAD) software that is used to essentially "slice" the object into ultra-thin layers. This information guides the path of a nozzle or print head as it precisely deposits material upon the preceding layer. Or, a laser or electron beam selectively melts or partially melts in a bed of powdered material. As materials cool or are cured, they fuse together to form a three-dimensional object.
Conventional manufacturing techniques are capable of producing a great range of shapes and designs but additive manufacturing takes production to the next level.
One of the greatest benefits of this more modern technology is the greater range of shapes which can be produced. Designs that can’t be manufactured in one entire piece with traditional means can easily be achieved. For example, shapes with a scooped out or hollow centre can be produced as a single piece, without the need to weld or attach individual components together. This has the advantage of being stronger; no weak spots which can be compromised or stressed.
The additive manufacturing process is very quick too, rather than needing an endless round of meetings from engineers in order to be able to tweak designs. With the assistance of the CAD software, making any changes takes simply the click of the mouse. Rapid prototyping in particular is very quick, with full models produced quite literally overnight in some cases. This provides companies with far more flexibility, and also has the result of slashing costs too.
3D printing for the manufacturing of artificial organs has been a major topic of study in biological engineering. As the rapid manufacturing techniques entailed by 3D printing become increasingly efficient, their applicability in artificial organ synthesis has grown more evident.
Materials for 3D printing usually consist of alginate or fibrin polymers that have been integrated with cellular adhesion molecules, which support the physical attachment of cells. Such polymers are specifically designed to maintain structural stability and be receptive to cellular integration. The term "bioink" has been used as a broad classification of materials that are compatible with 3D bioprinting.
Recently Scientists have unveiled a 3D print of a heart with human tissue and vessels. This invention is a major medical breakthrough that advances possibilities for transplants in near future:
- A biopsy of tissue was taken from patients, and then its materials were separated. Some molecules, including collagen and glycoproteins, were processed into a hydrogel, which became the printing “ink.”
- Once the hydrogel was mixed with stem cells from the tissue, the researchers from Tel Aviv University were able to create a patient-specific heart that included blood vessels. The idea is that such a heart would be less likely to be rejected when transplanted.
- Until now, researchers have only been able to print simple tissues lacking blood vessels, so a 3D, fully vascularized engineered heart is a step in the right direction.
- Heart disease is one of the major cause for death globally and there’s a shortage of heart donors for transplants, so 3D-printed hearts could help solve a major issue.
- The team in Tel Aviv is planning on culturing the printed hearts and then transplanting them into animals. It will take many years for this being used for humans.