Research staff at GeSIM, the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST and six other project partners are looking to highlight new approaches in regenerative medicine using physical plasma in Hannover. 3D-printed biocompatible support structures known as scaffolds play an important role in the field of regenerative medicine. For example, they serve as a basis for producing biological tissue intended to support wound healing and minimize the risk of postoperative infection. The advance in 3D printing being exhibited at LABVOLUTION 2017 will improve time and cost efficiency when producing the scaffolds while at the same time functionalizing them using atmospheric pressure plasma processes.

Atmospheric pressure plasma processes are a promising way of modifying the surface of even three-dimensional structures, for example to promote or deliberately inhibit cell growth on the surface or provide functional groups for chemical docking of biomolecules. Use of microplasmas also makes it possible to functionalize selected areas of the surface or apply a patterned coating. What’s more, atmospheric pressure plasma processes have a number of advantages over other surface treatment technologies. In addition to enabling short treatment times, the plasma processes are highly scalable and can readily be integrated into existing process chains. This simple integration is exactly what the project being presented at LABVOLUTION aims to harness. The objective is to functionalize or coat the scaffolds at the printing stage using an integrated plasma jet, thereby tailoring them to the patient's specific needs.