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Magnetic Fields Used to Improve Medical 3D Printing


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There has been a somewhat recent change in medical science as technologies and techniques have been enabling treatments to become individualized to the patient. This generally means the treatments will be more effective and can come with fewer side effects. Now this personalization can be extended to some medical devices, thanks to researchers at Northeastern University.

Additive manufacturing, especially 3D printing has become pretty famous of late as it enables interesting and unusual structures to be created quickly and cheaply. The Northeastern researchers decided to try applying 3D printing to the creation of catheters, especially for premature babies. Every premature baby has its own set of unique problems, so the standardized sizes and shapes of catheters can be problematic. By printing catheters designed for the patient's needs, the risks of traditional catheters can be minimized and removed. This requires a new 3D printing technique though, as the reinforcing ceramic fibers in the composite mix making the catheter, must be precisely arranged. To achieve this, the researchers applied very small amounts of iron oxide to the ceramic fibers, so that ultralow magnetic fields can manipulate them. Then a laser can be used to harden the plastic surrounding the ceramic fibers

Beyond the creation of better catheters for neonatal care, this research could lead to many other medical devices, but also better designed materials. This opens the door to not only theorizing the best fiber architecture for something, but actually testing the architecture.

Source: Northeastern University



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