Temple University Professor Develops 3D Printed Bandages Made From Soy
Scientists from Temple University in Philadelphia created a prototype for an “electrospun healing” device which uses soy protein and water to print personalized bandages directly onto a patient’s skin.
Soon, every household may have a handheld 3D printer which prints personalized bandages directly onto a wound. The printed bandage would allow a patient moves as it feels like part of their skin. Better yet, such a bandage would help tissues regenerate.
That is if Jonathan Gerstenhaber — a bioengineering professor at Temple University in Philadelphia — has anything to say about it. He’s already working on such a 3D printer together with the engineering faculty and students at the university.
The 3D printer uses electrospinning technology meaning it can print a bandage onto a patient’s skin. Electrospinning makes the synthetic material – polymer fiber – which is then laid onto the patient creating a perfectly fitting, personalized bandage.
Gerstenhaber’s plan was to develop personalized, flexible bandage for serious wounds which not only stopped the bleeding but also quickly regenerates skin. This process is called “electrospun healing”.
“I was like, ‘Wow, I’m making this tool to make my life easier, but it’s going to open this whole new avenue of research.” Gerstenhaber explains,”We’ve mainly been looking at burns, and the sorts of wounds that don’t heal well, and when they heal, they sort of heal like very bad skin.”
Using Electrospun Healing at Home?
The scientists are testing the bandages to ensure they both adhere to skin, but also that they can help tissues to regenerate. To do to this, they chose to use soy protein and use water to apply it. When a patient moves, the bandage moves with them.
“The main technique is making a fabric, sort of like a felt. Individual fibers are hundreds of nanometers wide—much thinner than a hair. Instead of using wool fibers, we take soy proteins and turn them into very thin fibers. At an image level, it this looks a lot like the natural matrix of how our cells live,” Gerstenhaber describes.
Gerstenhaber has so far developed a prototype for a larger 3D printer, but also for a handheld version. He presented a demonstration of the prototype at The Franklin Institute on March 25th.
However, the large version still needs work to improve its efficiency. Before being able to print a bandage, a 3D scan must first be taken of the affected area of skin. However, this process needs to be sped up.
But, the handheld printer is closer to being brought to market by the scientists. Someday, Gerstenhaber hopes this model will be in every home.