Bioengineers from the University of Pennsylvania are advancing the process of building lab-grown human organs by using the RepRap 3D printer to make templates of blood vessel networks out of sugar. (Source: University of Pennsylvania)
This is an incredible development. Aside from the great ability to produce the structurs, using sugar is good because it does not pollute. Also, it is probably the cheapest 3D printing material that there is.
So I salute the inventors. This invention has a great future.
From what I can gather, 3D printing has been applied quite a bit in the medical field for some time, particularly in the area of dentistry for quick output of custom molds as well as in the area of hearing aids. What's newer is the idea of applying 3D printing techniques to actually produce live tissue. This is an experiment along those lines and just a first start in terms of producing blood vessels that are durable and elastic enough for human use.
Given the slide show with all of the different applications of 3D printing in medical research, I get the impression 3D printing is well established in the medical world. Or, is this an entirely new field that is simply moving very quickly?
It is pretty awe inspiring, Dave. As for cost, this particular research initiative is based on the RepRap open source printer so I'm thinking costs are minimal. I can't imagine a commercial 3D printer being capable of this specialized type of work, any way.
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