Bionic EARS grown in lab on 3D printed moulds from kids' cells in world first

The subjects – aged between six and 10 – suffer from a defect in one ear called microtia, which impacts its shape and function.

Scientists in China collected cartilage cells from the kids’ ears and grew new scaffolds based on 3D print-outs.

These were dotted with tiny holes, gradually filled out by the cells.

The tissue was then implanted into a skin flap to reconstruct the ear, a process that took several months.

Bionic ear projectEBIO MEDICINE

BREAKTHROUGH: Scientists created new models dotted with tiny holes

The first child to go through the procedure two and a half years ago showed no signs the body had rejected the new cells.

Scientists will now monitor the kids for at least five years to determine the success of the project.

They will check whether the ears remain intact after the scaffold has broken down.

Bionic ear projectEBIO MEDICINE

PROCESS: The tissue was then implanted into a skin flap to reconstruct the ear

“Long-term follow-up of the cartilage properties and clinical outcomes…will be essential”

Project researchers

The researchers wrote: “We were able to successfully design, fabricate and regenerate patient-specific external ears.

“Nevertheless, further efforts remain necessary to eventually translate this prototype work into routine clinical practices.

“In the future, long-term follow-up of the cartilage properties and clinical outcomes…will be essential.”


UPDATE: Researchers will check whether the ears remain intact over several years

The study was published this month in the journal EBioMedicine.

It shares similarities with the so-called ear mouse experiment in 1997, when a surgeon grafted cartilage onto the animal’s back.

Daily Star Online previously revealed a surgeon is working on a bionic vagina to help women with rare genetic conditions.

Laser Metalz: Bionic Design Is The Next Frontier For 3D Printing

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Frank Herzog is the founder and CEO of Concept Laser, which makes the world’s largest industrial printer for metals. His printers can already produce delicate jewelry and medical implants as well as massive engine blocks for trucks. They even started printing “bionic” components for planes. “Bionic design allows you to adapt structures from nature and find the most optimal solution,” says Daniel Hund, Concept Laser’s marketing director.

Last fall, GE acquired a majority stake in Herzog’s company and folded Concept Laser into GE Additive, a new GE business dedicated to supplying 3D printers, materials and engineering consulting services. GE Reports visited Concept Laser in May. Take a look at some of the components Herzog’s machines printed.

Top image and above: A bionic concept design for an Airbus jet. Concept Laser machines are already printing “bionic” aircraft parts like wing brackets for Airbus A350 XWB jets (above). The bracket earned Herzog and two of his colleagues at Airbus the prestigious German federal president’s prize in 2015. Images credit: Airbus Operations

The titanium bracket is 30 percent lighter than its conventionally manufactured predecessor. Image courtesy of Airbus.

Engineers applied bionic design to remodel and 3D print this valve. “Bionic design allows you to adapt structures from nature and find the most optimal solution,” says Concept Laser’s Hund. Image credit: Laser Zentrum Nord GmbH and iLAS—Technische Universitat Hamburg-Harburg.

3D printing will allow doctors to make customized surgical tools. Image credit: Fraunhofer IWU

Concept Laser machines also print medical implants like this hip joint replacement part. Image credit: Concept Laser.

Besides design freedom, 3D printing can also save material. Above: The bracket on the left was produced by a conventional “subtractive” method from the metal cube on the left. Most of the input material became waste—the large cube in the middle. The bracket on the right was 3D printed on a Concept Laser machine from a metal powder (the third cube from the left). The waste fit in the small cube on the right. Image credit: Laser Zentrum Nord GmbH & Technische Universitat Hamburg-Harburg.

The jewelry designer Michaella Janse van Vuuren used a 3D printer to make this piece of jewelry. Image credit: Michaella Janse van Vuuren.

A 3D printed dental implant. Image credit: LAC-Laser Add Center GmbH.

A 3D printed medical component. Mohammad Ehteshami, who runs GE Additive, says that 3D printing requires a different design mindset. “You need a new way of thinking, you need different training, you need different machines,” he says. “This whole ecosystem is quite different from how we did things before.” Image credit: Concept Laser.

A 3D printed aerospace component. Concept Laser machines can print parts from stainless steel as well as titanium, aluminum, cobalt and nickel alloys and other metals. Image credit: Concept Laser.

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3D-Printed Bionic Finger for Underwater Robots

Published by Sandra Helsel, October 14, 2015 11:30 am


( A new type of soft bionic finger that can move like the fingers on the human hand has been developed by researchers from the Florida Atlantic University. For the most authentic-looking design, they downloaded a CAD model of a human digit and used a 3D printer to create squishy inner and outer molds. Inside, they placed two actuators made of shape memory alloys, which can “remember” and return to their original shapes even after they get bent or deformed, so long as they’re heated. The extensor actuator straightens up when heat is applied, while the flexor actuator curves.

The research team reports there are still “challenges with this technology such as the lengthy amount of time it takes for them to cool and return to their natural shape.” That’s why the team has decided that the technology will be used for underwater robots first, as the environment enables rapid cooling.

Tags: 3D printing, CAD, Florida Atlantic University, shape memory alloys