How topography can help with medical device effectiveness

An exploration of the way 3D printing is driving innovation in healthcare and life sciences.

Healthcare and life sciences are two industries where 3D printing is driving innovation, since it can print micro-precision parts that many medical devices require. Beyond medical devices, large healthcare and pharmaceutical companies are researching the ways that 3D printing can be used for next-generation drug development, like biomedicines, or personalised surgical techniques, like bone grafts.

Many projects also aim to explore the use of topography in optimising device effectiveness.

Project with the university of Nottingham

Last year, The university of Nottingham’s Centre for Additive Manufacturing selected BMF as an advisor for an EPSRC grant-funded 3D printing “Dial Up” project that focuses on“dialing up performance for on demand manufacturing,” where the multidisciplinary research group began to develop a playbook for standardising 3D printing in medtech and life sciences applications. This project runs alongside follow up work funded by an MRC project, the“Acellular / Smart Materials – 3D Architecture: UKRMP2 hub.”

Recently, BMF’s CEO, John Kawola, was asked to serve on the advisory board for another project based in the University of Nottingham’s Biodiscovery Institute, which has long been a leader in researching new materials and medical devices, as they received a grant to focus on designing bio-instructive materials for translation ready medical devices. The goal of the EPSRC–funded “designing bio-instructive materials for translation ready medical devices” project is to address major compatibility issues of implanted medical devices.

Solving the problem with 3D printing

These projects have differing goals, but have taken thematically similar approaches.

In Dial Up, BMF has taken a screening approach to understand how the process of identifying materials and processes for healthcare products to move quickly from concept to clinic might be automated. This will speed up adoption and streamline the process of making products that will help people with long-term chronic conditions, such as intestinal bowel disease.

The goal is to make an intestinal patch that will allow inflamed intestinal tissue to be regenerated in situ, but this requires BMF’s technology to deliver structures with cell relevant features manufactured at the sizes needed.

Alongside, researchers are exploring how BMF’s technology can be used to create micro-architectures that can control and direct cell phenotype, with the aim of scaling up manufacturing of microparticles that can direct stem cells towards bone or other desired phenotypes. Once again, researchers are seeking the sweet spot between being able to manufacture with feature sizes that cells can respond to and at a scale where commercially viable production is achievable.

Topographies are significantly contributing to immune acceptance

Device rejection is a significant healthcare problem, but researchers have found that physical surface patterns, or topographies, and the materials associated are significant contributing factors in immune acceptance for implantable medical devices. In the project focusing on devices that counter foreign body response, the research team is utilising BMF’s micro-3D printing technology to scale up findings and produce manufacturing-ready devices where materials and topologies are tested with semi-automated in vitro measurements.

Using machine learning to compile relevant data

In each of these projects, researchers aim to collect suites of relevant data that can be utilised by artificial intelligence, specifically machine learning, to build effective models of performance and provide mechanistic insights.

The capability of BMF’s high-resolution and micro-precision technology, plus high throughput, makes micro-3D printing ideal for this application. The end goal is to develop new devices or to find new ways to manufacture existing devices that will improve patient care and recovery.

BMF’s high precision P SL technology is ideal

BMF’s PµSL technology is ideal due to its high-precision, and the manufacturing process allows materials to retain their bio-instructive properties all the way through the production process. These projects will build on BMF’s established work with the University of Nottingham, and it’s an exciting advancement of the partnership to propel innovation across medtech and healthcare, enabling optimised device effectiveness across industries.

3D printed implants biotech and healthcare

Medical devices can be long-term implants or temporary aids like catheters. Using 3D parts for implants can help to facilitate healthy cell growth while preventing bacterial infections, a common issue with implants. Researchers working on 3D medical implants tend to focus on developing advanced biomaterials that resist infections. Their work aims to create surfaces that naturally discourage bacterial growth while promoting healthy tissue integration. This work not only addresses the immediate challenges of reducing implant infections but also sets a foundation for safer, more reliable medical treatments in the future.

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