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COMPAMED 2014 Trend Report on 3D printing

22nd September 2014


One of the largest technology companies in the USA is now also planning to get into 3D printing. The management of the IT giant, Hewlett Packard, thinks that the world market for 3D printers and related software and services will grow from US$2.2 billion in 2012 to US$11 billion in 2021. In turn, experts from the American market research company, International Data Corporation (IDC), are assuming that this year, 67% more 3D printers are going to be sold than in the previous year. The medical field is an area of application with great potential – all the way to the idea of creating entire organs with 3D printers in the future. Therefore, it is not surprising that 3D printers will also play an important role at this year’s COMPAMED in Düsseldorf.  

For the international trade fair for providers of medical technology industry (12 – 14 November/parallel to MEDICA 2014), about 750 exhibitors have booked - a new record from the start of the event in 1992. 

“In fact, 3D printers represent an exciting combination of material and process technology. You should be very excited about the progress in this field that will be presented at COMPAMED 2014,” explains Horst Giesen, director of the event. 

As a joint effort, scientists of the universities of Harvard, MIT, Sydney and Stanford have put together a comprehensive research report that experts consider a great leap in the field of medical 3D printing. By their own account, the study represents a breakthrough of how 3D tissue with blood vessels can be printed. The supply of blood is crucial for the function of organs, ensuring a sufficient supply of oxygen as well as removing waste and toxic substances from circulation. In the report, a solution is described to scientists on how blood vessels can be made with a 3D printer. For this, a special printer is used that can print out the smallest fibres possible, connected with each other. This type of printing almost corresponds to the vessel structure of a human organ. Subsequently, the fibres will be coated with human cells and a special protein that is supposed to stimulate cellular growth.

German researchers from the Technical University of Berlin and the German Heart Centre in Berlin are also working on 3D printer solutions. The vision of Professor Hartmut Schwandt, head of the 3D laboratory at TU Berlin, entails printing real heart valves from human cells. Based on computer tomography (CT), a heart valve structure could be custom printed for the respective patient; the structure can then be populated with the body’s own cells – this is how a real heart valve could be formed. For the structure, a special synthetic material is provided that will be decomposed by the body, but initially maintains the correct shape of the construction. According to Professor Schwandt, the required cell material will be generated from a tissue donation and cultivated for several months in a bioreactor by means of a tissue engineering process. Afterwards, it shall be ready for colonising the basic heart valve structure. 





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