Scientists have developed a 3D printing technique that can recreate the complex geometry of blood vessels, and could one day be used to produce artificial arteries and organ tissues.
A study, published in the journal
, outlines a layer-by-layer printing method that features fine-grain, programmable control over rigidity.
The findings could lead to better, more personalised treatments for those suffering from hypertension and other vascular diseases.
“The idea was to add independent mechanical properties to 3D structures that can mimic the body’s natural tissue,” said Xiaobo Yin, from University of Colorado (CU) Boulder in the U.S.
“This technology allows us to create microstructures that can be customised for disease models,” said Mr. Yin.
Hardened blood vessels are associated with cardiovascular disease, but engineering a solution for viable artery and tissue replacement has historically proven challenging.
To overcome these hurdles, researchers found a unique way to take advantage of oxygen’s role in setting the final form of a 3D-printed structure. “Oxygen is usually a bad thing in that it causes incomplete curing. Here, we utilise a layer that allows a fixed rate of oxygen permeation,” said Yonghui Ding, a postdoctoral researcher at CU Boulder.
By keeping tight control over oxygen migration and its subsequent light exposure, researchers have the freedom to control which areas of an object are solidified to be harder or softer — all while keeping the overall geometry the same.
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