TU Delft researchers develop self-twisting of DNA-inspired constructs. Researchers at TU Delft have made flat surfaces that are 3D printed and then ‘taught’ how to self- fold later. The materials are potentially very well suited for all kinds of medical implants. They report on their findings in the October 24th edition of Materials Horizons which features this research on its cover.
Complete regeneration of functional tissues is the holy grail of tissue engineering and could revolutionise treatment of many diseases. Effective tissue regeneration often calls for multifunctional biomaterials. A lot of research is currently going in that field. One example is the large research project, led by Maastricht UMC and with TU Delft as one of the participants, in the field of ‘smart’ 3D printed implants for recovery of bone defects. The project started this month; if it’s successful, it will lead to faster recovery of patients and less operations.
But the potential applications of 3D printed bio-implants is much bigger than only bone defects. Dr. Amir Zadpoor is one of the researchers at TU Delft in this field. He cooperates closely with hospitals like LUMC, UMC and AMC.
‘Ideally, biomaterials should be optimised not only in terms of their 3D structure but also in terms of their surface nano-patterns’, says Zadpoor. ‘3D printing enables us to create very complex 3D structures, but the access to the surface is very limited during the 3D printing process. Nanolithography techniques enable generation of very complex surface nano-patterns but generally only on flat surfaces. There was no way of combining arbitrarily complex 3D structures with arbitrarily complex surface nano-patterns.’
Zadpoor looks to the ancient Japanese art of paper folding (origami) to solve this deadlock. In this approach, flat surfaces are first 3D printed in a particular way to teach them how to self-fold.