A new way to make biomedical devices from the silk yields, Now researchers have developed a new, far more efficient method for making silk that allows them to heat and form materials in solid form for a variety of uses, including medical equipment.
The final product is superior to other ingredients, has physical properties that can be tailored to specific needs and can be functionally modified with bioactive molecules such as antibiotics and enzymes.
But, these new solid manufacturing processes can significantly reduce the time and cost of making many of them and offer more flexibility in form and properties. Also, this new approach avoids complications with silk-based protein supply chains, which should help increased production.
Silk is a protein-based natural biopolymer that has long known for its superior mechanical properties in the form of fibers and textiles that make textiles durable and have used in clinical threads for thousands of years.
Over the past 65 years, scientists have developed a method to break down fiber and restore silk protein known as fibroin in gels, films, fungi, and other ingredients into regenerative medicine.
The researchers report that they have overcome this limitation by developing solid-state silk treatment methods that produce large quantities of directly printed protein polymers and adjustable properties.
Like the production of plastics, the new process produces nanostructured pellets with diameters ranging from 30 nanometers to 1 micrometer, which obtained by drying out an aqueous silk fibroin solution. Nanopellets are then heated under pressure from 97 to 145 degrees Celsius as soon as they start to ignite.
The properties of thermoformed silk, such as flexibility, tensile strength, and compression, can be limited to some extent by changing conditions in the printing process, such as temperature and pressure, while bulk goods in devices such as bone screws and ear tubes or print patterns during or after the first form.
Silk screws can also be replaced with bone tissue. The absorption rate can be adjusted by producing screws at different temperatures from 97 to 145 degrees Celsius, which changes the crystallinity of the bulk material and thus its ability to absorb water.
The researchers also produced an ear canister device that helps leak infected ear canals doped with proteases that degrade silk polymers to speed up degradation if necessary after the tubes perform their function.
Thermal printing is possible because amorphous silk has a precise melting point at 97 degrees Celsius, which before did not show solution-based preparations, according to the researchers. Nanopellet raw material is also very stable and can store for a long time. This is a significant advance that can improve the application and scalability of silk production.