With 3-D printing developing immensely over the past few years, more and more medical facilities have been open to the idea of applying these technological advancements into various medical procedures. Since the first 3-D printer in 1984, there have been thousands of 3-D objects utilized in the medical field; from a transplantable kidney, to a new nose, and even to blood vessels. The development of 3-D printed objects has not only decreased the cost of buying these objects, but has also made it more flexible for health officials to create virtually anything they need to complete a procedure. In one instance, doctors were even able to create an entire 3-D printed hand costing 50 euro, comparable with one that costs thousands. The idea of printing organs for patients in need of an organ donor, or printing material to help cancer patients treat certain types of cancer is no longer a dream, it is reality.
A recent article featured on CNN by Brandon Griggs states that because of a 3-D printers precision process, a printer “can reproduce the vascular systems required to make organs viable. Scientists are already using the machines to print tiny strips of organ tissue. And while printing whole human organs for surgical transplants is still years away, the technology is rapidly developing.” The act of doing these types of printing is referred in the medical environment as “Bioprinting”. Bioprinting is explained like this: “Scientists harvest human cells from biopsies or stem cells, then allow them to multiply in a petri dish. The resulting mixture, a sort of biological ink, is fed into a 3-D printer, which is programmed to arrange different cell types, along with other materials, into a precise three-dimensional shape. Doctors hope that when placed in the body, these 3-D-printed cells will integrate with existing tissues.” The ability to create essentially all parts of the human body and the equipment to save them could make 3-D Bioprinting the answer to many current problems in the medical industry, such as: the need for organ donors, preventing and/or treating cancer, and even bone replacement.
Griggs, Brandon. "The next frontier in 3-D printing: Human organs." CNN. Cable News Network, 3 Apr. 2014. Web. 21 June 2014. <http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/03/tech/innovation/3-d-printing-human-organs/>.
"Medical & Dental - 3D Printing Industry." 3D Printing Industry Medical Dental Category. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2014. <http://3dprintingindustry.com/medical/>.