Rapid manufacturing technology for bio-inspired structures

Fraunhofer IWM

We have good reasons to learn from nature!

Nature continually optimizes materials and structures to fulfill complex and multiple functions. We want to develop artificial structures which perform as well as natural ones. In order to do so we need

  • fabrication processes that do not set any limits to the generation of structures and shapes
  • materials that allow for tailoring of their physical, chemical, and biological properties.

For example, tissue engineering aims to create functional tissues in vitro and to use them as transplants or as biomimetic test systems. A key challenge for engineering 3D tissue is to supply the cells with nutrients - as it is done in nature by the vascular system.

How can we generate bio-inspired structures?

Fraunhofer introduces freeform fabrication in a new dimension for the manufacturing of flexible structures from the micrometer to the centimeter range. The technology uses new biocompatible materials and a manufacturing process combining 3D inkjet printing and a laser-based ploymerization technique for cross-linking with utmost precision. This development is an important step towards future industrial processing of elastic biomaterials and the creation of biofunctional structures for tissue-engineering and medical applications.

With the help of modeling and simulation, we are developing a bio-inspired technical realization of a vascular system which mimics the functionality of a natural blood vessel system.

Our vision

Creating artificial blood vessels with high resolution rapid prototyping and biofunctional materials.

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