3D-printing body parts


One of the earliest adopters of 3D printing has been the medical community. We are all different, so it suits the mass customisation that additive manufacturing is so good at. Moreover, doctors already have your CAD file in the form of a medical scan. There have been two approaches: printing parts as implants to repair broken fingers, hips, jaw bones etc. This is done in a variety of materials, often titanium. And printing tissue using living cells. Bioprinters are already making short pieces of blood vessel and skin grafts. One day, some believe, it will be possible to print entire organs for transplant. Printing with the patients own stem cells would also avoid rejection problems. Now researchers at Oxford University have developed a third way. They can print cell-like materials which share some of the properties of living tissue. The material is printed using droplets. This development opens up the possibility of making artificial organs for transplant. A good round up of the latest in biofabrication by my colleague Charlotte Howard can be found here.




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