Jun 1, 2017 | By Tess

Researchers from the Korea Institute of Machinery & Materials (KIMM) and the Chungnam National University Hospital recently announced a new partnership through which they will seek to develop a 3D bioprinting process for ear reconstruction, as well as a number of other projects. The collaboration was made official through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

KIMM and Chungnam National University Hospital officials signed an MoU to collaborate on a 3D printing-based ear reconstruction process

Whenever bioprinting is mentioned in a casual setting, there always seems to be someone who exclaims something along the lines of, “I saw they 3D printed an ear!” Indeed, it seems we’ve all seen photos of lab-grown and printed ear structures (we wrote about one this week), and it makes sense why we would have: before being able to print a functioning organ, scientists should have mastered printing a more simple cartilage structure, like an ear.

A joint project between KIMM and the Chungnam National University Hospital is the latest effort aimed at using additive manufacturing for the development of ear reconstruction. As the researchers have stated, they hope to create an artificial ear which is practically identical to a real one and that can be customized to the patient.

In advancing their 3D printed ear research, the scientists plan to use cartilage cells grown by a team from the Chungnam National University Hospital, while the KIMM researchers will be tasked with developing a 3D bioprinting method specifically for ear reconstruction. The researchers say that as their work advances, they will test the 3D bioprinted ears on animals before any human transplantation will occur.

In addition to the 3D bioprinted ear reconstruction project, KIMM and the Chungnam National University Hospital will also collaborate on a number of other projects, including the development of medical robots, and a precise health monitoring machine that people can wear on a regular basis in order to track their blood pressure, pulse, and other information.

The MoU was signed by both parties at the Chungnam National University Hospital

Song Min-ho, the director of Chungnam National University Hospital, located in Daejeon, South Korea, said of the collaboration: “In support of the city’s efforts to become specialized in the fourth industrial revolution, we believe it’s essential to conduct collective research with a number of organizations in different fields of study, with the aim of useful research outcomes.”

Over the past couple of years, South Korea has been making a concerted effort to promote and advance additive manufacturing technologies across a wide range of industries. Not only has it invested significantly in state-of-the-art technologies such as 3D printing, AI, 5G service, etc., but it has also raised the bar by incentivizing the use of 3D printing and robotics in healthcare, as well as offering tax exemptions for companies conducting 3D printing R&D.

In fact, the South Korean government recently announced its plans to spend $37 million on its 3D printing industry in 2017. Understandably, the technology has been identified as a potential strong area of growth for the country, and the government is hoping to take advantage of that.

As for the 3D printed ears, we can’t wait to see what KIMM and the Chungnam National University Hospital come out with.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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