The Dutch University of Twente said researchers have developed a biodegradable synthetic resin which can replicate body parts exactly and precisely.
And, said Ferry Melchels and Dirk Grijpma of the university's Polymer Chemistry and Biomaterials group, cells can be sown and cultured so that tissues are produced by the body itself.
The technique uses stereolithography to create 3D objects from a digital design, while objects can also be scanned using a micro CT or CT scanner to get the digital image. Stereolithography can then be used to create an accurate 3D object.
But the breakthrough, it's claimed, depends on the type of resin the researchers have created. The biodegradable resin, used with stereolithography, has advantages for many medical applications.
The researchers say, by example, if a child has a heart valve disorder, a 3D digital image of the heart valve can be created using a CT scanner. The model can be copied exactly with the new type of resin, and if the structure is porous, the child's own cells can be deposited on it. After the carrierbreaks down, the natural tissue remains.
The university produced graphics to demonstrate the technique, a description of what the images portray is below.
The polylactide-based resin makes it possible to replicate 3D digital structures very accurately. The white bar is 500 micrometers long. (A) Photo of a porous structure made using stereolithography. (B) Micro CT scan of the structure fabricated. (C) Electron microscope image. (D) Porous structure sown with bone cells.