Mar.21, 2013 | By Anne van der Meij

3D printing is an awesome technique which provides you easy everyday appliances. Furniture, jewelry, and shoes already are common applications in 3D printing. 3D printing is developing rapidly and the possibilities grow each day. Currently 3D printing is also revolutionizing the medical world and soon 3D printers will be able to save your life.

3D printing cells

Imagine yourself taking living cells and using them as your ink to print. The next moment the machine squirts out tissue that could develop into a kidney or a heart. No, this is not science-fiction. Researchers of the University of Edinburgh created a cell printer that spits out embryonic stem cells. Stem cells have the ability to develop into different cell types. These different cell types develop into different organs. This amazing printing method could be used to make human tissues for testing new drugs, to grow organs, or even to print cells directly inside the body.

Cell printer: 3D printer that prints human embryonic stem cells

Human embryonic stem cells developed by the cell printer.

Blood vessels

3D Printing artificial blood vessels may take cell printing to the next level. Artificial organs lack the vascular network needed to function properly. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute printed artificial biological molecules with a 3D inkjet printer. These molecules were zapped with a laser that forms the material into the shape of blood vessels. The creation of artificial blood vessels represents an important step in the development of artificial organ transplants.

3D printed blood vessel.

3D printed bandages stimulating recovery

To continue on blood vessels, 3D printed smart bandages actively stimulate blood vessel growth in a coordinated pattern on the surface of a wound. These bandages are able to direct the growth of blood vessels around a blocked artery or normalize blood vessels that feed a tumor. Smart bandages are thereby a very promising 3D printing application.

After removal of the smart bandages newly formed blood vessels appear.

3D Printed skin

Lothar Koch of
the Laser Center Hannover in Germany and his colleagues made laser-printed skin cells. These cells can be used to replace skin damaged from burns or skin diseases. Old fashion skin grafts wouldn’t be needed anymore.

Printed skin cells.


3D Printing bone

The skeletal system has become a popular focus for 3D printing. Researchers of the Washington State University have used a 3D printer to create a bone-like material. This material can be used for dental work but can also be used for orthopedic procedures.

3D printer producing bone like material.

Something once known as science fiction now becomes hardcore science. In the near future we can explore much more applications of 3D printing in medicine. 3D printing isn’t just a technique which provides you easily everyday appliances. 3D printing will save your life.







Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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