The Monash scientists who led the creation of the world’s first 3D-printed jet engine in 2015 are now improving the design and cost of manufacturing medical implants, surgical tools, aerospace components, and more.
They’ve been working with surgeons to design tools for specific operations, to replace ‘one-size-fits-all’ tools currently available.
A new printing technology can now simultaneously print living stem cells and the environment they need to survive and become the right cell type. The first application is a cartilage repair kit.
“Our current 3D printers can integrate living and non-living materials in specific arrangements at a range of scales, from micrometres to millimetres,” says Professor Gordon Wallace, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) at the University of Wollongong.
“And we’re developing new approaches that will enable 3D printing of nano-dimensional features.”
“You can’t teach anatomy without bodies. Or at least you couldn’t until now,” says Monash University’s Paul McMenamin.
He and his colleagues are printing 3D plastic body parts of unprecedented detail and accuracy that have the potential to revolutionise anatomy teaching.
Anatomy students need a high degree of familiarity with the intricate details of the human body. That ideally comes with repeated handling and hands-on study. But students are often reluctant to touch a cadaver any more than necessary.
Removing the emotional, ethical and physical restrictions to close handling and repeated study improves the students’ familiarity with the human body. Another advantage of the printing is the expertly applied false colouring picking out intricate nerves, veins, arteries and ligaments that are much harder to identify in preserved cadavers.