Australian biomedical engineers have developed a small flexible robot named F3DB, that can 3D print biomaterials directly inside the human body, with the goal of simplifying medical procedures in the future. The F3DB has a three-axis printing head that can bend and twist using hydraulics on the tip of a soft robotic arm. The nozzle can print pre-programmed shapes or can be operated manually if more complex or undetermined printing is required.
3D bioprinting involves printing natural tissue-like structures using living cells and other natural tissues, known as “bio-ink”, to repair organ or tissue damage or ruptured blood vessels. Currently, biomaterials must be created outside of the body before being inserted into the body, which can lead to complications such as high blood loss and infections.
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The use of living cells in the printing process allows these man-made structures to naturally fuse with the human body and continue to grow. Team leader Thanh Nho Do said the F3DB will eliminate the complications and risks of inserting materials inside the body, which is typically done through invasive surgery. Currently, no commercially available technology can perform direct 3D printing inside the human body.