The human knee is a complex structure with a lot of moving parts that make it prone to injury. Knee operations are painful and expensive, and a full recovery can take months. Fortunately, researchers at Duke University are working to lighten the load the knee replacement surgery with a revolutionary 3D printable hydrogel that acts as cartilage. An April 22nd article from New Atlas says the knee parts, which can be fabricated with a $300 3D printer, can be custom tailored to be an exact match of the old part.
The researchers demonstrated the value of their new technology by printing a meniscus, which essentially works as a shock-absorber for the knee that allow it to bend and move smoothly for decades. "A meniscus is not a homogenous material," says graduate student Feichen Yang. "The middle is stiffer, and the outside is a bit softer. Multi-material 3D printers let you print different materials in different layers, but with a traditional mold you can only use one material."