Together with 7 European companies and research institutes PolyVation partners in the EU-funded innovation project "FAST". FAST aims at the development of functionally graded scaffolds and novel hybrid 3D printing technology. The printing technology will allow manufacturing bone impants for regenerative medicine customized to the patient at affordable costs.
The market for additive manufacturing (AM) has grown with trends higher than 20% every year in the last 10 years. Their fast uptake is due to different innovative factors such as no shape limits in manufacturing process, full customisation on the single artefact, localised production and limited waste material. In particular, the ability to print any shape allows to design the products not following the constricting conventional manufacturing processes but just focusing on their function.
This "Design for Function" feature is one of the main drivers for AM uptake on a wider scale production and the limited number of "functional" materials that can be printed or the limit in controlling gradient and surface properties are showing to be an important barrier. This is particularly true in manufacturing of tissue engineering (TE) scaffolds where the technology has a promising growth over the last decade. Scaffolds production for tissue regeneration is one of the main fields where the "Design for Function" feature of AM makes the difference compared to the other production techniques, in particular if in the production process all the needed "functions" can be introduced: shape and porosity, mechanical stability and biochemical properties such as cell growth control or antibiotic function.
The FAST project aims to develop a cost-efficient technology to integrate all these "functions" in a single AM process that is even capable to produce gradients in the bulk or surface properties of the individual scaffold. Final objective of the project is to realize a demonstrator of the proposed hybrid AM technology in order to achieve a small-scale pilot production of scaffolds for bone regeneration with the novel smart features to be tested in a preclinical trial.
PolyVation partners through customized development and manufacturing of 3D-printable bioresorbable multi-block copolymers.
FAST has been awarded near 5 mln Euro of the European Community H2020 and runs for 4 years.
More information on FAST can be found at http://project-fast.eu
The pictures are from Dario Sabljak (L) and INPLAS e.V. (R).