On the first Friday (25th of September) we were invited to the VUmc in Amsterdam.They introduced us to their 3D Innovation lab which is managed by the jaw-surgery-department.
Different printed models of jaws and skeletons areprinted to test before the actual surgery.
Besides the lab there is also a bio-printer and a ZCorp-like printer. The Bio-printer has three printer heads. One with air, used to generate pressure. A second one for printing bio-gel with cells and the last one prints dissolvable PCL to create a supporting structure/lattice. STL-files don’t work on the printer, so a special biocad program is used with g-codes. In the future they want to develop printers which are sterile.
The ZCorp-like printer prints different layers of plaster-like material, which are merged at specific points by a binding material. The bio-printer prints hydrogel or bio-degradable materials.
Recap – A new approach to ear reconstruction is needed since it is very difficult to create a lasting and realistic ear. 3D printing offers new opportunities to create ear-scaffolds and our task is to do tests with printed matrixes of ear cartilage and to find a general and simplified pattern of the ear cartilage matrix.
During this day Dafydd Visscher and Ernst-Jan Bos introduced us on the topics and problems of the project and gave us an introduction on the PHD research. Our scaffold should for example mimic real cartilage since cells react differently on different textures/structures and forms. The form of our mimicked (bio-degradable) intercellular ear cartilage should signal the cells to make new ear-cartilage when the mimicked cartilage is broken down. The PCl dissolves in two years, but the cells should start growing a new lattice after only two months. We need to know how ear cartilage differs from other cartilage in function and form for example cartilage present in the nose. Another challenge is to see if we can print two layers that can interconnected. For that we need to do research on how cells are layered. The project has STL-files of CT-scans of ear cartilage available for this. See a 3D-model of this file:
For next week our challenge is to read multiple papers on ear cartilage and ear reconstruction surgery methods. And what are our first ideas on creating this mimicked cartilage? We will also do some starting tests with adapting the STL ear cartilage files.