Tag Archives: 3D bioprinting

3D-Printed Facial Prosthetics

3D-Printed Facial Prosthetics an Inexpensive Option after Undergoing Eye Surgery

A professor of ophthalmology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Florida, in conjunction with the Composite Materials Lab at University of Miami, has come up with a new method to create 3D-printed facial prosthetics that can be made within minutes at the fraction of the cost of a traditional prosthesis. Its nanoclay material prevents it from breaking down when exposed to light and moisture and prevents dirt from taking root in the prosthetic.

Facial prosthetics can cost upwards of $10,000 to $15,000 and take weeks to produce. They’re made by an ocularist who takes a mold of the face and casts it using rubber. Final touches, such as skin color, and fine details, such as individual eyelashes, are performed. They’re usually not covered by health insurance and patients often have to pay out-of-pocket.

People with eye cancer may undergo a lifesaving procedure called exenteration that removes the contents of the eye socket along with surrounding tissue, leaving a hollow socket. Conventional facial prosthetics are expensive, take a long time to make, and can discolor and fray at the edges over time.

A topographical imaging system scans both the unaffected and affected sides of a patient’s face. The software creates a mirror image with the undamaged portion, which is combined with the scan of the affected side to create a 3D rendition of the face. A 3D printer takes the topography information and translates it into a mask formed out of rubber infused with nanoparticles that enable it to match a variety of skin tones, as well as strengthen the rubber material to weather damaging effects of light and moisture.

Since the topography imaging is performed with a mobile scanner, the scientists plan to create 3D-printed facial prosthetics on location where the patient resides, have the data downloaded in Miami, print out the prosthesis, and have it shipped to the patient the next day.

Revolutionizing Orthopedic Surgery with BioPen: Stem Cell 3D Printing

According to the playwright Oscar Wilde, “life imitates art,” as opposed to the other way around. Such is the case of the development of BioPen by Australian scientists at the University of Wollongong—a handheld 3D printing surgical device that ejects cell material onto injured bone and cartilage enabling them to heal faster. Similar gadgets, like the SwissPen and 3Doodler, are on the market as artist tools that are filled with plastic filament to create 3D art renditions either on paper or as freestanding models.

The “ink cartridge” on the BioPen contains stem cells fixed into alginate (gel-like seaweed extract), a biopolymer carrier, that is surrounded by another layer of gel material. Surgeon then “draws” with the BioPen which squeezes the two gel layers as cell material is delivered onto impaired bone surface. An ultraviolet (UV) light that is attached to the device cures each layer before another is placed, so that a stable 3D scaffold is erected.

The stem cells are expected to multiply and differentiate into nerve, muscle or bone cells and conglomerate into new working tissue. Growth factors and medications can be combined with cell material in the BioPen to assist with bone and cartilage regeneration. The BioPen is ideal for acute bone and cartilage injuries with healthy tissue still intact, such as those sustained in sporting incidents or motor vehicle accidents.

Depending on the severity of bone injuries, healing with the aid of immobilization equipment and traditional surgery can take several months to years. With the BioPen, regeneration time can be drastically shortened. The portable device also gives surgeons control and precision on where to deliver the stem cells cutting surgery time and the risk of post-operative complications.