It’s amazing what 3D printers can do. From creating food to toys, it makes sense the next evolution of 3D printers would allow scientists to create a human organ.
Scientists can create small pieces of living tissue in a lab. In an ideal world, these tissues can be put together to create organs in what is known as bioprinting. Bioprinting is theoretical, but with the 3-D printer, it may soon become a reality. The 3D printer would take living tissue and pattern out an organ the same way current 3D printers use plastic or metal to create an object.
“The mechanical process isn’t all that complicated,” stated Mike Titsch, the editor-in-chief of ‘3D Printer World’. “The tricky part is the materials, which are biological in nature. It isn’t like 3D printing of plastic or metal. Plastic doesn’t die if you leave it sitting on an open-air shelf at room temperature for too long.”
If the 3D printer for organs were put to use, doctors would basically extract cells from the person in need of a new organ. They would grow the cells in the lab and then put the biomass in the printer. The printer would use preset patterns to print out the new organ.
The benefits to this type of 3D printer seem endless. No longer would patients have to wait for a donated organ. Oftentimes, patients waits years for an organ to become available. Furthermore, since doctors would be using the patient’s own cells to create the organ, they wouldn’t have to worry about the complications of organ rejection. Additionally, scientists could test new drugs on printed organs, rather than on animals.
Although a 3D printer for organs has yet to be invented, it seems to be a logical step in the advancement of 3D printing technology.