Freeform Fabrication of Biomaterials
Manufacture of biomaterials is an important consideration for reducing biomaterials science to therapeutic practice. One class of manufacturing methods is freeform fabrication, in which a digital model of a 3D object is constructed using automation such as extrusion deposition, selective laser sintering, or rapid prototyping. The accompanying image displays a custom freeform fabrication device for the creation of 2D and 3D constructs composed of a number of low melt temperature polymers. Patterns are generated on the computer and then executed by a 3D positioning system, moving a deposition surface in relation to an extrusion nozzle. Such technologies can be used to create 3D tissue engineering scaffolds, cell-attachment substrates, and biomimetic polymer implants. Other freeform fabrication technologies may be used to create molds for investment casting, thus enabling any 3D structure designed by computer to be realized in metal or injection moldable polymer.