Researchers Invent 3D Magnetic Printing for making patient-​​specific medical devices

Today’s catheters only come in stan­dard sizes and shapes, which means they cannot accom­mo­date the needs of all pre­ma­ture babies.

“With neonatal care, each baby is a dif­ferent size, each baby has a dif­ferent set of prob­lems,” says Ran­dall Erb, assis­tant pro­fessor in the Depart­ment of Mechan­ical and Indus­trial Engi­neering. “If you can print a catheter whose geom­etry is spe­cific to the indi­vidual patient, you can insert it up to a cer­tain crit­ical spot, you can avoid punc­turing veins, and you can expe­dite delivery of the contents.”Erb’s team has devel­oped an inno­v­a­tive 3-​​D printing tech­nology that uses mag­netic fields to shape com­posite materials—mixes of plas­tics and ceramics—into patient-​​specific prod­ucts. The bio­med­ical devices they are devel­oping, which include catheters, will be both stronger and lighter than cur­rent models and, with their cus­tomized design, ensure an appro­priate fit. Their paper on the new tech­nology appears in the Oct. 23 issue of Nature Com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

Others have used com­posite mate­rials in 3-​​D printing, says Joshua Martin, the doc­toral can­di­date who helped design and run many of the exper­i­ments for the paper. What sets their tech­nology apart, say Erb and Martin, is that it enables them to con­trol how the ceramic fibers are arranged—and hence con­trol the mechan­ical prop­er­ties of the mate­rial itself. Read more..


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