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3D printers have been around for a while, being used for all kinds of reasons, including to print chocolate. A recent development on our beloved 3D printer however, is that it is now being used to create a material that is “bone-like” and researchers say it could be used to mend your bones.

Washington State University engineers are the brains behind the idea, and they say that the bone-like material is added to damaged or diseased bones, where it acts as a scaffold for new bone growth. This material is said to be able to dissolve with “no apparent side-effects”.

The group utilised a ProMetal 3D printer to create whatever bone structure they need, with the bone-like ceramic powder as a feed material. The powder material is held together by a plastic binder sprayed in layers half as thick as a human hair. The idea has of course gone through rigorous research and development, having been through four years of development just to make the right bone-like material.

Watch a video of how the the bone-like material is created here.

Tests have been done using immature foetal bone cells, and it in fact is able to support bone growth, as new bone cells started to grow over the scaffold in the fist week it was attached. Promising results have also come from tests with live rabbits and rats.

This sounds like some very promising medical technology, especially with the use of a 3D printer to create bone. There have been plenty of developments regarding the usage of 3D printers in creating just about anything you can think of, from food and now to bone. The only downside I see is the pricetag of one of these printers. If only they were more affordable to buy and use!