Fancy 3D printer spits outs ‘replacement parts’ for humans

3D printing

3D printing

3D printing is getting big. In a recent article, Sorab Ghaswalla listed 3D printing as number one on his list of five things “that will disrupt the world in 2013” and Chris Anderson seems to think that 3D printing will be bigger than the web, even leaving his job as Editor-in-Chief of Wired magazine to, if you read the article’s assumptions, concentrate on this as a new endeavour.

I am one of those believers. According to The Verge, scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have created cartilage using a 3D printer that could be used in human transplants.

Scientists tested the properties of these “replacement parts” in mice, and found that it has “enhanced mechanical properties” sharing similar aspects “typical of elastic cartilage.” After 8 weeks the implanted cartilage “appeared to have developed the structures and properties that are typical of elastic cartilage, demonstrating their potential for insertion into a patient.” Sorry about the inverted commas but science says it best.

This could mean that in the future this printed cartilage, or even anything that has the correct medical qualities, could be used in human transplants. Sit back a while and just think about that. Are you imagining anything even remotely close to the sci-fi movies you have seen?

The scientists found that similar to the real thing, the artificial cartilage could be manipulated to be porous, thus encouraging the healing process by helping healthy cartilage cells grow around the implant. Instead of just a plastic replacement part like today, you would have a complete functioning part of your body.

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