If we look at nature we can find beings with fascinating abilities, from the super adherence that a mollusk has on a rock to the complete regenerative capacity of starfish. Our human body also has incredible characteristics such as self-repair, since our bones are able to rebuild and our wounds to close.

The development of biomaterials is focused on all these properties, in addition to other characteristics that we tell you about in today’s blog.

 

What are biomaterials?

Biomaterials are biocompatible, whether of natural or synthetic origin, so they can be introduced into living tissue to replace or restore some function, remaining in permanent or intermittent contact with body fluids.
 
Apart from their biocompatibility, these types of materials also have other characteristics that distinguish them from the rest, such as that they tend to be simultaneously robust and light. The synthesis of biomaterials is carried out at room temperature and with abundant elements.
 
This wide group of materials can be subdivided into the following:
  • Polymerics – They are widely used due to their versatility, elasticity, and ease of manufacture.
  • Ceramics: these are complex chemical compounds that contain metallic and non-metallic elements, are highly
  • resistant to corrosion and are hard but brittle. Metallic: they are very resistant to high impact and have great durability. They are generally covered with a biocompatible layer to prevent corrosion of the material.
  • Compounds: they are used in cases where certain properties are needed that cannot be achieved by a material alone.

Differences between biological materials, biomateirales and biomimetic materials

Even though they all contain the prefix “bio” in them, they do not refer to the exact same type of materials.

  • Biological materials: are all those generated by nature itself, such as wood or human bones. The main difference from biomaterials is that they are synthesized by humans.
  • Biomimetic materials: are those synthetic materials that imitate some characteristics of biological materials, differing from biomaterials in that they are not biocompatible.
  • Biomaterials are biocompatible, whether of natural or synthetic origin, so they can be introduced into living tissue to replace or restore some function

Are biopolymers biomaterials?

The answer is yes and these are the two main reasons:

  • They can be of natural origin, such as starch, or synthetic, whose monomers are derived from renewable resources, which become polymer through chemical reactions.
  • Biopolymers are going strong in the medical and pharmaceutical sector due to their biocompatibility. Materials such as hydrogels are making their way into this field of work, along with controlled release biopolymers for the manufacture of drugs. In addition, thanks to 3D printing, it has already been possible to print some organs formed by biopolymers that could replace an organ that is damaged.

Industrial applications

The applications of these materials are collected within the sectors of medicine, pharmacy and dentistry.

  • Polymeric materials excel in drug-absorbing patches (surgical sutures or arm prostheses).
  • Ceramics, on the other hand, can participate in bone repair, for example, by injecting the material into the teeth, creating a graft (absorbable ceramics) or being part of prostheses (non-absorbable ceramics).
  • Metals are used mainly for the generation of prostheses, heart valves, surgical instrumentation and orthodontics.

Finally, composite biomaterials are present in implants, artificial skin, artificial ligaments, and blood vessel replacements.

Do you want to know more about biomaterials? Would you be interested in applying it to any of your products and would you like to know how? Contact us!

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