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Home Industry News New 3D printing method allows for creation of self-folding bone implants

New 3D printing method allows for creation of self-folding bone implants

8th November 2017

Engineers have developed a new approach to 3D printing that could make it possible to create flat structures that can fold themselves into 3D shapes in the manner of origami.

Developed by Delft University of Technology, the method works with commonly available 3D printers and PLA, the most widely-used printing material. It works by simultaneously printing and stretching the material in certain spots, meaning that when heated up, the object automatically transforms into a specific shape.

By alternating the thickness and the alignment of the filaments in the material, it is possible to produce structures that change shape in ordered, sequential stages, potentially allowing complex architectures to be produced.

In the case of bone implants, the technique makes it possible to create prosthetics with a porous interior, allowing stem cells to coat both the inside and the outside, resulting in a stronger and more durable implant.

Study leader Amir Zadpoor at Delft University of Technology said: "Shape-shifting could definitely turn many of our existing 2D worlds into 3D worlds. We are already being contacted by people who are interested in working with it."

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