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Hybrid 3D printer creates implantable cartilage that could be used in humans

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Cartilage printer
Cartilage printer

Scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have created a hybrid 3D printer that’s able to manufacture implantable cartilage for regenerative use in patients. The team combined traditional inkjet printing with electrospinning, a method that uses an electrical current to create extremely fine fibers from plastic polymers. The fibers can be manipulated to form a porous structure, attracting healthy cartilage cells that grow around the implant. Better yet, the artificial cartilage is able to withstand everyday use while those healthy cells are generated. The material was tested in mice over a period of eight weeks and found to have "enhanced mechanical properties" compared to traditional printed solutions while also sharing traits "typical of elastic cartilage." The printer is still confined to the laboratory for further testing, but the goal is to one day use the printed cartilage in human patients.