6. Hydrogels used to ease damaged knees
Hydrogels that have been 3D printed can now replace cartilage for a damaged meniscus in the knee, according to researchers at Duke University.
The material developed by the researchers is hydrogel-based and matches human cartilage in strength and elasticity. It is also 3D printable and stable within the body.
The Durham, N.C.–based researchers used a $300 3D printer to create custom menisci for a plastic model knee to demonstrate the use of hydrogels.
With one stiffer and stronger hydrogel and a softer and stretchier hydrogel, the researchers created a double-network hydrogel to make the material strong, according to a press release.
A nanoparticle clay was added to the double-network hydrogel to create a mock-cartilage 3D printable. The hydrogels could flow like water when under stress, but hardened once the stress was removed.