Functionally graded Additive Manufacturing scaffolds by hybrid manufacturing

Objective: obtaining continuous compositional gradients, to better imitate the tissues, on 3D printed bone scaffolds, thanks to a hybrid 3D printing / Nadir Plasma Jet technology. Results that cannot be obtained with the additive manufacturing of several biomaterials alone or with their mixing.

3D printing technology with dual material printhead combined with Plasma Jet to selectively activate/functionalize scaffold filaments during 3D printing allowed to combine two technologies in a single platform.

Nine European partners between companies and research institutes have joined forces to carry out a Research and Innovation project entitled “FAST – Functionally graded Additive Manufacturing (AM) scaffolds by hybrid manufacturing”. The goal was to develop a new hybrid 3D printing technology aimed at the biomedical sector for the fabrication of patient-customized implants at reasonable costs. The possibility of having customized implants improves the effectiveness of preoperative planning, reducing surgery times and improving the duration of the implant.

Nano-composite polymers, smart additives, plasma-assisted surface functionalizations, and bio-resorbable polymers will be integrated into a single hybrid AM process, also capable of producing gradients in the bulk or surface properties of the single implant. The final objective of the project was to create a demonstrator of hybrid AM technology capable of producing implants with intelligent functions for bone regeneration on a pilot scale, in order to be validated in preclinical trials.The new hybrid 3D printing technology for the production of these implants has been developed by integrating both Nadir technologies: a new active nanocomposite polymer, and a plasma module for surface functionalizations.

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