The "BoneJet 3000"

Bad breaks fixed fast by bone 'printer'

To produce the artificial bone segments, ACR has adapted a rapid prototyping machine, a device engineers use to quickly make models by building up layer upon layer of material.

The idea is to scan a damaged bone, using either computer aided tomography or magnetic resonance imaging, and generate a 3D computer model of the missing section. This would then be fed into ACR's machine, which can create more precise shapes than most prototypers. This approach is already occasionally used by surgeons, but not to replace load-bearing bones.

A missing bone segment could be created on the spot in the operating theatre, says Tony Mulligan, head of ACR. "Big segments would only take about an hour-and-a-half," he says, a fraction of the time it takes to build up a gap segment. The sections should be strong enough to bear weight without any need for a pin. And within about 18 months, the polymer section would be completely replaced by living bone.


2 Responses:

  1. vxo says:

    Yes.... but .... will the cartridges have "smart" chips in them to prevent refilling?

    Okay, seriously... it sounds pretty cool. I've read about inkjet technology being used before to place precisely measured quantities of reagents on test strips and stuff... the metering is pretty reliable; each time you fire a nozzle, you get a certain number of picoliters output, plus or minus only about three percent.

    For some reason, though... I keep envisioning Roxy Paine's painting, drawing, and sculpture manufacturing devices.

    I saw the PMU on display here in Miami a couple years ago, and it was pretty cool... it's the most well-built piece of industrial robotics I've ever seen, and the software is nifty too. It runs on MacOS, and creates the painting as a series of sine waves of varying frequency and phase, painting a line every 45 minutes (then waiting for it to dry).

    • jwz says:

      Cool stuff -- I saw the "Skumak" machine at SFMOMA a few years ago. It was really neat, spitting out these weird blobby sculptures in slow motion.

      But amazingly, they wouldn't let you touch the finished blobs! Come on, it's not like they can't make more. The machine's right there! It's still running!

      I wonder what they did with the blobs. Threw them away? Sold them at insane prices?

      Of course, this is the same museum that did an exhibit of Calder's mobiles, and yelled at anyone who blew on them. I can only assume that would have pissed Calder off.