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Bones are organs of the skeletal system, providing shape, mechanical support and facilitating movement. They are well known for their self-healing abilities; however, large-scale bone defects cannot be healed completely by the body, and in most cases, external intervention is needed to repair the defects. Among different treatment options such as autografts and allografts, bone tissue engineering is becoming widespread. The essential idea is to apply the concepts of tissue engineering, i.e. the interplay of cells, scaffolds and biological molecules to form a ‘tissue engineering construct’ (TEC), which can promote bone repair and regeneration. The key players in bringing research and clinical practice together are the design and manufacturing technologies. The ability of 3D printing technology to make customized medical devices will make it the core manufacturing technology for bone tissue engineering in future generations.

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