The Lattice #49: June 22nd, 2020

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The Lattice is 3DHEALS weekly recap of the latest developments, expert insights, academic publications, upcoming events in the world of healthcare 3D printing and biofabrication.  Have a cool 3D printed Lattice photo to share with us? Share @3dheals on Instagram or Twitter

About the Lattice this week: 3D Printed self-expanding nitinol stents by CSIRO, Melbourne, Australia. Read more here.

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Related Articles:

Interview: Daisy Zhu, Co-founder of 3D Science Valley

3D Printed Orthopedic Implants in China and the Challenges in Commercialization

Orthopedics: The New Automobile?

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The Separation of Bangladesh Craniopagus Twins

Generative Design and 3D Printing

When Artificial Intelligence Meets 3D Printing

3D Printed Orthopedic Implants in China and the Challenges in Commercialization


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Bioengineer Jordan Miller: Clinical Trials for 3D-Printed Organ Replacements Could Start in 5 to 10 Years June 20th, 2020 


Three-dimensional Printing, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality for Pulmonary Atresia: Early Surgical Outcomes Q1 Evaluation – Authored by Jianzheng Cen, Rong Liufu, Shusheng Wen, Hailong Qiu, Xiaobin Liu, Xiaokun Chen, Haiyun Yuan, Meiping Huang, Jian Zhuang. Heart Lung and Circulation, 23 May 2020

Selected computed tomography (CT) angiography and complete preoperative models in a patient with pulmonary atresia and major aortopulmonary collateral arteries (MAPCA) (Case 1). A–C. Data and images derived from CT scanning. D–F. Radiological image and segmentation. The collateral vessels were obscure in CT images. G. Final three-dimensional printed model. Copyright.  Heart Lung and Circulation


Single-stage unifocalisation for pulmonary atresia (PA) with ventricular septal defect (VSD) and major aortopulmonary collateral arteries (MAPCA) requires a high degree of three-dimensional (3D) anatomical imagination. A previous study has reported the application of a 3D-printed heart model with virtual reality (VR) or mixed reality (MR). However, few studies have evaluated the surgical outcomes of the 3D model with VR or MR in PA/VSD patients. Three-dimensional heart models of five selected PA/VSD patients were derived from traditional imageology of their hearts. Using VR glasses, the 3D models were also visualised in the operating room. Both the 3D-printed heart models and preoperative evaluation by VR were used in the five selected patients for surgical simulation and better anatomical understanding. Mixed reality holograms were used as perioperative assistive tools. Surgical outcomes were assessed, including in-hospital and early follow-up clinical data.The use of these three new technologies had favourable feedback from the surgeons on intraoperative judgment. There were no in-hospital or early deaths. No reintervention was required until the last follow-up. Three patients developed postoperative complications: one had right bundle branch block and ST-segment change, one had chest drainage >7 days (>40 mL/day) and one had pneumonia. The preoperative application of a 3D-printed heart model with VR or MR helped in aligning the surgical field. These technologies improved the understanding of complicated cardiac anatomy and achieved acceptable surgical outcomes as guiding surgical planning.

Novel 3D printed device with integrated macroscale magnetic field triggerable anti-cancer drug delivery system – Authored by Kejing Shi, Rodrigo Aviles-Espinosa, Elizabeth Rendon-Morales, Lisa Woodbine, Mohammed Maniruzzaman, Ali Nokhodchi. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, August 2020


With the growing demand for personalized medicine and medical devices, the impact of on-demand triggerable (e.g., via magnetic fields) drug delivery systems increased significantly in recent years. The three-dimensional (3D) printing technology has already been applied in the development of personalized dosage forms because of its high-precision and accurate manufacturing ability. In this study, a novel magnetically triggerable drug delivery device composed of a magnetic polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) sponge cylinder and a 3D printed reservoir was designed, fabricated and characterized. This system can realize a switch between “on” and “off” state easily through the application of different magnetic fields and from different directions. Active and repeatable control of the localized drug release could be achieved by the utilization of magnetic fields to this device due to the shrinking extent of the macro-porous magnetic sponge inside. The switching “on” state of drug-releasing could be realized by the magnetic bar contacted with the side part of the device because the times at which 50%, 80% and 90% (w/w) of the drug were dissolved are observed to be 20, 55 and 140 min, respectively. In contrast, the switching “off” state of drug-releasing could be realized by the magnetic bar placed at the bottom of the device as only 10% (w/w) of the drug could be released within 12 h. An anti-cancer substance, 5-fluorouracil (FLU), was used as the model drug to illustrate the drug release behaviour of the device under different strengths of magnetic fields applied. In vitro cell culture studies also demonstrated that the stronger the magnetic field applied, the higher the drug release from the deformed PDMS sponge cylinder and thus more obvious inhibition effects on Trex cell growth. All results confirmed that the device can provide a safe, long-term, triggerable and reutilizable way for localized disease treatment such as cancer.

Engineering of brain-like tissue constructs via 3D Cell-printing technology – Authored by Yu Song, Xiaolei Su, Kevin F. Firouzian, Yongcong Fang, Ting Zhang and Wei Sun. Biofabrication, 11 May 2020. 

In 3D models, primary cells (collected from rats) are mixed with biocompatible materials to form bioink, and then printed on a petri dish for imaging or a 4×4 electrode array for electrophysiological recording. 2D samples are used as controls. Copyright. Biofabrication 


The development of 3D Cell-printing technology contributes to the application of tissue constructs in vitro in neuroscience. Collecting neural cells from patients is an efficient way of monitoring health of an individual target, which, in turn, benefits the enhancement of medicines. The fabricated sample of neural cells is exposed to potential drugs for the analysis of neuron responses. 3D cell-printing as an emerging biofabrication technology has been widely used to mimic natural 3D models in in vitro tissue research, especially in vitro brain-like tissue constructs in neuroscience. Fabricated brain-like tissue constructs provide a 3D microenvironment for primary neural cells to grow within. After more than several weeks of in vitro culturing, the formation of neural circuits in structures equips them with the capability of sensitively responding to a stimulus. In this study, an in vitro layered brain-like tissue construct is first proposed and later developed by 3D cell-printing technology. The layered structure is systematically analyzed, starting from printing parameter optimization to biological functionality performance. The optimized diameter of printing nozzle and printing speed are 0.51 mm and 5 μl s-1, respectively, and the elastic modulus is approximately 6 kPa. Live/dead and immunostaining imaging is used to verify the growth of neural cells in the printed structure. The survival rate of neural cells in 2D and 3D samples is compared, and the results demonstrate that the 3D-printed structures exhibit a better artificial culturing environment and a higher survival rate. Both 2D and 3D samples are directly cultured in a 4 × 4 multiple electrode array. Local field potentials are collected and validated by the Med64 recording system. Tetrodotoxin is used to test the drug sensitivity of the printed structure, and the excitatory postsynaptic potential signals of the physiological performance indicate that the 3D-printed structure has great potential as a drug testing model in the pharmaceutical study.

An Online Platform for Automatic Skull Defect Restoration and Cranial Implant Design – Authored by Jianning Li, Antonio Pepe, Christina Gsaxner, Jan Egger. Medical Physics Arxiv, 1 June 2020.

Illustration of the In-Operation Room (in-OR) process for cranial implant design and manufacturing. Left: a possible workflow. Right: how the implant should fit with the skull defect in terms of defect boundary and bone thickness. Copyright. Medical Physics Arxiv


We introduce a fully automatic system for cranial implant design, a common task in cranioplasty operations. The system is currently integrated in Studierfenster (, an online, cloud-based medical image processing platform for medical imaging applications. Enhanced by deep learning algorithms, the system automatically restores the missing part of a skull (i.e., skull shape completion) and generates the desired implant by subtracting the defective skull from the completed skull. The generated implant can be downloaded in the Stereolithography (.stl) format directly via the browser interface of the system. The implant model can then be sent to a 3D printer for in loco implant manufacturing. Furthermore, thanks to the standard format, the user can thereafter load the model into another application for post-processing whenever necessary. Such an automatic cranial implant design system can be integrated into the clinical practice to improve the current routine for surgeries related to skull defect repair (e.g., cranioplasty). Our system, although currently intended for educational and research use only, can be seen as an application of additive manufacturing for fast, patient-specific implant design.


New UK deals will bring millions more PPE items to frontline healthcare staff June 11th, 2020

10 Year Old Ryan Golditch Making 3D Printed PPE June 16th, 2020

“Let them make it” – BCN3D CTO on 3D printing after COVID-19 June 17th, 2020

Chinese 3D Printer Exports Soar Amid COVID-19 Pandemic June 20th, 2020

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