We live in a world where injuries and disasters are a common happening. Each day, there are countless people being injured in one way or another whether it be a sporting accident or car crash.
When these accidents and incidents arise, it is not uncommon for people to maybe break a bone or two.
Wouldn’t it be just fantastic if, for example, someone breaks an arm or a leg and instead of amputating said arm or leg, the doctor was able to just turn on the 3d printer and print out a new bone fit to replace the broken one. For many, this may just seem to be a far off kind of dream, but for a young generation of European startup companies, this is becoming a possibly revolutionary reality.
These companies are making the most out of 3d printing technology buy using it more than printing 3d medical prototypes. They are using 3d printers to create bones to apply to the human body.
The market out there for printing materials that are compatible with the human body such as cells and organs is relatively small at this stage. But, according to the Global Market Insights, the bio 3d printing industry is expected to be worth 2.2 billion dollars by the year 2024.
Across Europe, a handful of companies are beginning to make this dream a reality. These startups include businesses such as Xilloc and Particle3D. A lot of the companies that are trying to make bone printing a thing of the medical world are still in need of approval before even attempting the use of this technology.
Fortunately for lots of these companies, their tests have been relatively successful.
One of the startups amongst the others who are trying to successfully 3d print healthy bones, Particle3D, is working tirelessly to make it a real thing.
“We are trying to mimic how the bone is constructed inside and out,” Particle3D founder Casper Slots says. Casper Slot went on to found Particle3D with Martin Jensen, Morton Andersen and Torben Thygesen who was a surgeon at Odense University Hospital.
Torben Thygesen was aware that there was a need for a new method of providing bone replacements for patients. He knew that there needed to be some sort of invention for those who face significant trauma, especially those with facial trauma. This is because although their problem can be resolved, they are left with an appearance that they cannot recognize as themselves which is really quite saddening.
“If you don’t have the right tools to reconstruct the patient, you are left with a patient that can’t recognise themselves in the mirror,” Casper Slots goes on to say. “That often leads to depression because they lose their identity.”
To overcome this potentially depressing hurdle, Particle3D created a composite material which is made out of calcium phosphate. Calcium phosphate is the mineral in which our bones are made out of. Printing with this material allows for the 3d printed bone implants to be personalised and customised to suit the patient in which it is being delivered to.
These bone implants are also dissolvable and will disappear as the new and natural bone is being formed in the patient’s body.
Casper Slots who has conducted tests on small animals such as rats and mice has found success with this method. “Cells inside the implant actually start to make marrow and blood vessels necessary for it to be converted into real bone.”
Particle3D hopes to raise enough money to be able to fund human trials by 2021. If these trials are successful. Then 3D bone printing may just become a medical norm. Particle3D is, however, not the only startup trying to break into the industry with this creation, other businesses are racing against the clock to be the first to 3d print fully functioning human bones.
Particle3D and other companies such as Xilloc and Mimetis still have a long road ahead of them before 3d bones are regulated. Before anything is regulated, these businesses must face a long, tedious and unprofitable journey before the technology is perfected and advanced enough to support the successful transition of bone implants.
Only time will tell whether or not we will see 3d printed bones and other human properties being replicated by 3d printers and put into practice.