3D printing may seem like just a fun intellectual hobby, however it’s applications have far extended to other areas like 3D printing houses but most importantly the 3D printing of human organs. Apart from this being an exciting and intriguing area; the breakthroughs made in 3D printing within the healthcare sector saves lives above all.
Here are 5 cases of 3D printing human organs that will leave you in awe!
This is a recent one, that will probably need a lot of work before widespread release. Engineers from the University of Minnesota have managed to develop a prototype for a synthetic eyeball. The the prototype comes fully equipped with photodetectors which allows for light detection. The process was carried out using a custom built 3D printer. The engineers overcome the previous inability of 3D printing on a curved surface through silver ink particles; these particles were uniformly dispersed over a hemispherical glass cone and actively stuck to it. Semiconducting polymer materials were then used to print out the photodiodes. Collectively the entire process spans a time period of around 1 hour. The next steps, according to the researchers is to create a more practical design; this includes using softer tissue for implants and also improving the effectiveness of the photodiodes.
Although not close to fully mimicking the work of God; scientists have taken colossal steps forward in understanding and recreating brain structure. Firstly, scientists at Harvard have 3D printed a fake gel brain, using magnetic resonance imaging, to identify the secrets behind the unusual fold like structure. When the structure is immersed in solvent, the swelling recreates the fold like structure of the biological brain. The study, will give some great insights into treating, diagnosing and preventing neurological disorders.
Researchers have also managed to 3D print squishy brain like material. Yikes! What next? What is promising about this tissue is that it is much softer than conventional 3D printing material. This means that scientists will be able to create scaffolds that mimic the biological structure of human organs. Zhengchu Tan, from the department of mechanical engineering at the Imperial College London, was the mastermind behind the new 3D printing technique. He explained that cryogenic freezing was the secret behind the breakthrough technology. The previous issue of underlying tissue layers collapsing, was overcome by freezing subsequent layers before new layers are printed.
Moving forward, the scientists aim to improve the process to sustain constant cooling in a chamber which will make it easier to print larger scale 3D organs of softer tissue composition.
Face of a 9000 year old teenager
The power of science will never cease to amaze, and this is one such case. Researchers at the University of Athens, have managed to reconstruct the face of a 9ooo year old teenager using scanning techniques and 3D printing. The process began with a CT scan of the ancient girl’s skull which was then 3D printed. The eyes, muscles and skin were then added using artificial materials like silicon. And to top it off, the hair was then added using research and context about individuals at that time. Pretty cool!