Bioresorbable materials and their use cases

As the technology is getting more advanced, so the materials do. Bioresorbable ones, such as polymers are now the most sustainable ones and also, they are providing so much more new possibilities. Their properties enable the body to absorb the materials that they are constructed with over the period of time. This simply means that if we print out the medical device made out of the bioresorbable polymers, which are supposed to be inserted into the human body, this would be the most convenient and efficient way for the patient. 

The most beneficial in applying bioresorbable polymers into the 3D printing process is the cost and the patient’s recovery state. Because such material is easily digested by the body, we can eliminate the cost of additional surgeries in order to remove the specific parts of the implants. What is more, is also the time of patient healing, reducing the risk of complications and risks involved. 

Image source: https://www.poly-med.com/

Let’s have a look into main bioresorbable polymers types below: 

PLA –  thermoplastic, whose main component is the cornstarch is onsidered to be raw, fully renewable material. It’s also the most popular one in 3D printing and it’s being widely implemented in the food packaging industry. PLA is mainly used with the FDM (Fusion Deposition Modeling) technology. Also, it has some of the derivatives which are PLLA, PDLA or PDLLA. 

PGA  – is one of the biodegradable thermoplastic, whose properties are such as very high strength or biodegradability. They are being used in processes such as gas extractions or surgeries. 

-POE – this polymer offers a variety of applications such as film applications, footwear or medical devices. It can provide a high level of flexibility and elasticity. Also, it is recyclable, which is a very significant feature.

PCL – it is a thermoplastic, which is biodegradable, however not very resistant to the high temperature. It can be easily reshaped and used for the prototypes. Due to its properties, it can improve solvent resistance.

Are the bioresorbable materials having useful properties in terms of 3D printing? 

Definitely. As mentioned above, biocompatibility is one of them. In a result of physical, biological or chemical reaction the polymer degradation can be performed and the properties of the material can be changed. These include their strengths, shape or colour and can be done in the computer modeling phase. Following that, we can clearly see what properties it may have a huge significance in 3D printed devices being made out of bioresorbable materials such as polymers. They can basically be very compliant with other materials. However, they are also very liable for water absorption, which can simply mean not properly melting and creating unwanted moutling. Same with the igh temperature. It’s not a good factor in the process, because polymers are not resistant to heat and this can only expose them for damage and deformation. On the other side, being biodegradable, they are able to create new properties and adjust more than other materials. This can open up a lot of opportunities and their application in many different products.

3D printed, osteopore bioresorbable implants (image source: https://3dprint.com/)

In what kind of fields are the bioresorbable materials being mostly used?

Mainly, bioresorbable materials have the most usage in implanted, medical devices. Lowering the risks of the surgeries, patients’ compatibility with the implants and preventing non-recyclable waste, they can generate many solutions in the medical centers, hospitals, and clinics. As their most demanded properties are lying in medicine, there are also at least a few other fields they are being useful. These include construction, automotive textiles, food and drink packaging, electronics and even biodegradable films.

The future of bioresorbable materials

The application of bioresorbable materials such as polymers like thermoplastics can be a future of sustainable, resource and time efficient method of conducting medical procedures. As long as their implementation may be successful in different industries, the properties of bioresorbable polymers in the medical field can put them in the superior position. They can be used in the 3D printing process to produce surgical screws, plates, coronary stents or other orthopedic devices. Also, the time of patient recovery, healing and time of the therapy may be reduced thanks to all of their biocompatible features.

What do you think about possibilities offered us by bioresorbable materials? Should we consider them as the main material in 3D printing processes? Share your opinion with us in the comment below!

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