No, it’s not science fiction - the video above is a demonstration of a new 3D printing method that can create something that would normally take 6 or more hours in just 19 minutes.
Engineers at University of Buffalo say that this technology is progress toward 3D-printed human tissue and organs, biotechnology that could eventually save countless lives. This new technology is 10-50 times faster than the current industry standard and works with large sample sizes that have been previously difficult to achieve.
This development has serious possible implications for addressing the shortage of organ donors and the never dwindling list of people awaiting transplants. If you or someone you love has ever had to wait for a donated organ, then you know how long the process can take. Sometimes it’s as much as years of waiting - and not everyone has that time.
The technology centers on a 3D printing method called stereolithography, and jelly-like materials known as hydrogels, which are used to create things like diapers, contact lenses, scaffolds in tissue engineering, and more.
My exposure to 3D printing has been fairly limited to board game inserts and fun little projects that my friends with printers have whipped up. The technology demonstrated in the video, which is obviously far beyond your average home 3D printer, has me gobsmacked.
If you’ve a mind to read deeper into this incredible technology, you can read the study that was published on February 15th in the journal of Advanced Healthcare Materials.
“Our method allows for the rapid printing of centimeter-sized hydrogel models,” says the study’s co-lead author, Chi Zhou, PhD and associate professor of industrial and systems engineering. “It significantly reduces part deformation and cellular injuries caused by the prolonged exposure to the environmental stresses you commonly see in conventional 3D printing methods.”
Researchers say that this method is even suitable for printing cells with embedded blood vessel networks, which is just crazy to think about. This could play a critical role in the eventual production of 3D-printed human tissue and organs.
The team’s research was funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering and the National Institutes of Health, as well as the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
What do you think about this latest development in medicine?