From Academia: 3D Printed PPE Safety, A Better hydrogel, Cadaver Replacement

“From Academia” feature recent, relevant, close to commercialization academic publications in the space of healthcare 3D printing, bioprinting, and related emerging technologies. 

Email: Rance Tino ([email protected]) if you want to pen an Expert Corner blog for us or want to share relevant academic publications with us.

3-D Printed Protective Equipment during COVID-19 Pandemic

– Authored by Christian Wesemann, Stefano Pieralli, Tobias Fretwurst, Julian Nold, Katja Nelson, Rainer Schmelzeisen, Elmar Hellwig, and Benedikt Christopher Spies. MDPI Materials, 24 April 2020 

Profile view of the worn face shields showed limited space for additional PPE with (A) RC1, when compared with (B) RC2, (C) Budmen V3, and (D) Easy 3D.Copyright. MDPI Materials


While the number of coronavirus cases from 2019 continues to grow, hospitals are reporting shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers. Furthermore, PPE for the eyes and mouth, such as face shields, allow for additional protection when working with aerosols. 3-D printing enables the easy and rapid production of lightweight plastic frameworks based on open-source data. The practicality and clinical suitability of four face shields printed using a fused deposition modeling printer were examined. The weight, printing time, and required tools for assembly were evaluated. To assess the clinical suitability, each face shield was worn for one hour by 10 clinicians and rated using a visual analog scale. The filament weight (21–42 g) and printing time (1:40–3:17 h) differed significantly between the four frames. Likewise, the fit, wearing comfort, space for additional PPE, and protection varied between the designs. For clinical suitability, a chosen design should allow sufficient space for goggles and N95 respirators as well as maximum coverage of the facial area. Consequently, two datasets are recommended. For the final selection of the ideal dataset to be used for printing, scalability and economic efficiency need to be carefully balanced with an acceptable degree of protection.

Bioprinted Injectable Hierarchically Porous Gelatin Methacryloyl Hydrogel Constructs with Shape-Memory Properties

– Authored by Guoliang Ying, Nan Jiang, Carolina Parra‐Cantu, Guosheng Tang, Jingyi Zhang, Hongjun Wang, Shixuan Chen, Ning‐Ping Huang, Jingwei Xie, Yu Shrike Zhang. Advanced Functional Materials. 6 September 2020

Schematic showing the fabrication process of the 3D‐bioprinted hierarchically porous hydrogel constructs by using an aqueous two‐phase bioink. a) The aqueous two‐phase emulsion bioink containing the pre‐gel GelMA/cell and PEO blend. b) 3D bioprinting and photocrosslinking. c) Minimally invasive injection of the hierarchically porous hydrogel constructs. d) The hierarchically macro‐micro‐nanoporous structure of the 3D‐bioprinted GelMA hydrogel constructs: i) macropores, ii) interconnected micropores, and iii) nanopores. Copyright. Advanced Functional Materials


Direct injection of cell‐laden hydrogels shows high potential for tissue regeneration in translational therapy. The traditional cell‐laden hydrogels are often used as bulk space fillers to tissue defects after injection, likely limiting their structural controllability. On the other hand, patterned cell‐laden hydrogel constructs often necessitate invasive surgical procedures. To overcome these problems, herein, a unique strategy is reported for encapsulating living human cells in a pore‐forming gelatin methacryloyl (GelMA)‐based bioink to ultimately produce injectable hierarchically macro‐micro‐nanoporous cell‐laden GelMA hydrogel constructs through 3D extrusion bioprinting. The hydrogel constructs can be fabricated into various shapes and sizes that are defect‐specific. Due to the hierarchically macro‐micro‐nanoporous structures, the cell‐laden hydrogel constructs can readily recover to their original shapes, and sustain high cell viability, proliferation, spreading, and differentiation after compression and injection. In addition, in vivo studies further reveal that the hydrogel constructs can integrate well with the surrounding host tissues. These findings suggest that the unique 3D‐bioprinted pore‐forming GelMA hydrogel constructs are promising candidates for applications in minimally invasive tissue regeneration and cell therapy.

Producing 3D printed high‐fidelity retroperitoneal models from in vivo patient data: The Oxford Method

– Authored by Matthew A. Williams, Robert W. Smillie, Michael Richard, Thomas D. A. Cosker. Journal of Anatomy. 24 July 2020. 

(a-b) Final models for printing as viewed in GrabCad, (c) Post-processing of printed models. CopyrightJournal of Anatomy


Macroscopic anatomy has traditionally been taught using cadaveric material, lectures, and a variable amount of additional resources such as online modules. Anatomical models have also been used to assist in teaching. Of these, traditional plastic models have been shown to be effective educational tools, yet have significant drawbacks such as a lack of anatomical detail and texturization. Three‐dimensional (3D) printed models stand to solve these problems and widen access to high‐quality anatomical teaching. This paper outlines the use of 3D multi‐planar imaging (CT and MRI) as a framework to develop an accurate model of the retroperitoneum. CT and MRI scans were used to construct a virtual 3D model of the retroperitoneum. This was printed locally as a full‐size color model for use in medical education. We give a complete account of the processes and software used. This study is amongst the first of a series in which we will document the newly formed Oxford Library of Anatomy. This series will provide the methodology for the production of models from CT and MRI scans, and the Oxford Library of Anatomy will provide a complete series of some of the most complex anatomical areas and ones that degrade quickly when a real cadaver is being used. In our own internal experience, the models are highly accurate, reproducible, and durable, as compared to prosected specimens. We hope they will form an important adjunct in the teaching of the subject.

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