Innovative material leads to better 3D-printed artificial blood vessels
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
The benefits of 3D printing brought a revolution in medical implants. Bones, eyeballs, even artificial blood vessels can be customized to a patient in need. But even the most tailored artificial blood vessels often have to be removed once new cells and tissues grow. For a growing child with a vascular graft for a heart defect, this could mean many surgeries. Professor of Bioengineering and Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering, John P. Fisher and 2011 Fischell Fellow Anthony Melchiorri sought to develop a better material for vascular implants. Fisher and Melchiorri’s polymer-based material resin meets one of the biggest challenges in 3D printing in the medical field: the need for biodegradable and biocompatible materials that support cell and tissue growth while degrading over time. Its mechanical properties, strength, and elasticity mimic those of actual blood vessels. Because it is also biodegradable, the patient’s own tissue replaces it over time, reducing or eliminating the need for further surgeries.