3D Printed Sugar Scaffolds Could Help Grow Organs, Then Dissolve Away
Jacob Banas, 24 de Mayo de 2018
Sugar, that amazingly sweet treat some of us just can’t get enough of, has long been the fascination of children (and those with a child-like sweet tooth). Its ability to be melted down into a glass-like substance enables confectionery artists to create tasty displays worthy of museums, or being served as a 3D printed dessert. In fact, the same properties which make sugar so wonderful for cooking and designing also make it great for science.
The University of Illinois announced, in an article published Wednesday, that Ph.D. graduate Matthew Gelber and Rohit Bhargava, a professor of bioengineering and Director of the Cancer Center at Illinois, created a new kind of 3D printer capable of printing detailed biological structures out of sugar.
Yes, there are other 3D printers capable of working with sugar. However, unlike typical commercial printers, Bhargava’s uses isomalt – a sugar substitute derived from beets and commonly found in throat lozenges. Once melted down and printed, the sugar structures cool and solidify, creating a sturdy scaffold which makes the structures particularly useful in device manufacturing and in health-related fields such as biomedical engineering and cancer research.
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