“It seems like science fiction.” Anything you can imagine can often be made with 3D printing, including body parts. This is one of the greatest opportunities and threats in manufacturing and medicine.
“The premise is simple. Send a scanned image of a body part to the printer and the machine starts building. Ears, noses, fingers.” These prosthetics are made of bio-ink, a combination of human cells and biodegradable gel. This means that people who previously could not have a transplant for fear of rejection in the body can now have made-to-order bones, organs, and other body parts.
Does this mean patients are turning into robots? Not necessarily. “The cells are able to anchor onto the scaffold, they start making new tissue. And as that starts to happen, the scaffold goes away.” With time, the printed prosthetic disintegrates in the body, and it is replaced by naturally-produced cells from a patient’s own body. But though widespread use of this technology is still far off – potentially decades away – the potential for a revolution in medicine is very real today.
What will be the next most-printed object? Fabricated is about the new world of 3D printing food. Cody Wilson has designed a functional 3D firearm. What does this mean for consumers? What will government’s role be in 3D printing? Only time will tell.