UOW program uses 3D printing to regrow human tissue

The University of Wollongong has teamed with expert counterparts in the field of replacement body parts to offer the world's first international masters in biofabrication.

The two-year program has the potential to bring a new wave of smart businesses to the city's doorstep.

It brings together four universities with expertise in biofabrication - where 3D printing techniques are used to regrow human tissue.

The four - UOW, Queensland University of Technology, Germany's University of Wurzburg and the University Medical Centre Utrecht, in the Netherlands - will each admit 10 students a year.

The students will spend between nine and 12 months learning abroad at a counterpart university.

The method is intended to help students build an international network and a track record of working with world experts in bionics, fabrication and bio-ethics.

Professor Gordon Wallace, director of UOW's ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), said the participating universities were chosen for their complementary skills in the emerging field.

ACES brings expertise in areas including stem cell biology, 3D printing hardware and printable "bio-inks", and a capability to take products from concept to completion.

The 3D printing techniques could be applied to biomedical devices, as well as products such as customised jewellery.

"It's a very specialist course that requires a fairly high level of entry," Prof Wallace said.

"The opportunities for 3D printing are global in nature. This course is exciting not just because it's in 3D printing - a new, emerging technology - but in that it trains students in ways to establish global opportunities."

Rather than producing job seekers to fill existing jobs, the course is expected to turn out a large component of graduates who will create their own businesses.

"Already emerging from our research in Wollongong we've seen the establishment of small start-up companies that either utilise 3D printing or are building 3D printers, and I think it's just the tip of the iceberg," Prof Wallace said.

"I think as we tune our training programs and give the right technical skills, the right communication skills and business acumen, we'll see quite a revolution in the establishment of small companies in Wollongong."

The degree will open this year.

The University of Wollongong. File picture

The University of Wollongong. File picture

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