He’s Making Waves

ISE’s Dr. Binil Starly talks about the next wave of 3D printing – HUMAN ORGANS – with the Triangle Business Journal

Before heading out to attend one of the premier regenerative medicine conferences in the world, Dr. Binil Starly sat down with the Triangle Businees Journal to discuss his research in the field of biomanufacturing.

Link to: Triangle Business Journal Article.

Below is the TBJ article in it’s entirety.

Here is the next wave in 3D printing — human organs — courtesy of N.C. State University

May 8, 2014, 8:53am EDT

Lauren K. Ohnesorge
Staff Writer
Triangle Business Journal

At a lab at North Carolina State University, Binil Starly could be a part of medical history and he’s using industrial engineers to do it.

Starly, the director of industrial engineering and systems engineering lab for Engineering Biological Tissue Systems at NCSU, tells me we’re getting close – close to a world where, when delivering the devastating news that you need an organ transplant, doctors can push the print button.

And, when a new part comes out, industrial engineers, such as those at NCSU, will be needed to inspect the merchandise.

Starly, and researchers like him at NCSU, is using a variety of software, including technology developed at Morrisville’s Geomagic, to create and study synthetic scaffolds. The eventual idea is that cells can grow on the scaffold, creating living tissue.

But, in execution, it’s a lot more complicated.

The research is based on 3D printing, and Starly, who says he is looking for industry partners, says it’s early. “The fundamental benefit of a 3D printing approach is being able to design a project yourself and print it on demand according to your own specifications,” he says.

And printing hearts and livers is still a far off application. More immediate are bone and skin applications to treat burn victims, bone cancer patients.

“3D printing can play a dramatic role,” he says.

And it already is. He tells me metal scaffolds are already being printed. But he sees NCSU’s role as a potential pioneer in polymers – flexible materials that more accurately mimic the human body.

“There are some issues with biomaterials that need to be resolved,” he warns. Primarily, the fact that it’s still, for the most part, an untested idea.

But that’s where the engineers come in. They’ll have a base material from an as-yet-to-be-signed industrial partner, and NCSU will be able to give it a full inspection, ensuring that it can meet a design criteria.

Starly compares it to an inspection line at an automobile factory.

“You need to know that part that was produced has met all those specifications,” he says, adding that it’s even more important when dealing with the human body. “When a scaffold is being build, you want to make sure that the scaffold, although it is just for one patient, has been checked to meet specifications.”

And industrial engineers, should a product fail to stack up, will determine why – and whether a new material could correct any issues.

“In the next five years, more companies will be interested in polymer-based scaffolds,” he says. And NCSU engineers are gearing up to meet the need.