3D printing may seem a little unfathomable to some, especially when you apply biomedical engineering to 3D printing. In general, 3D printing involves taking a digital model or blueprint created via software, which is then printed in successive layers of materials like glass, metal, plastic, ceramic and assembled one layer at a time. Many major manufacturers use them to manufacture airplane parts or electrical appliances.
Some of the most incredible uses for 3D printing are developing within the medical field. Some of the following ways this futuristic technology is being developed for medical use might sound like a Michael Crichton novel, but are fast becoming reality.
Bioprinting is based on bio-ink, which is made of living cell structures. When a particular digital model is input, specific living tissue is printed and built up layer by cell layer. Bioprinting research is being developed to print different types of tissue, while 3D inkjet printing is being used to develop advanced medical devices and tools.
While an entire organ has yet to be successfully printed for practical surgical use, scientists and researchers have successfully printed kidney cells, sheets of cardiac tissue that beat like a real heart and the foundations of a human liver, among many other organ tissues. While printing out an entire human organ for transplant may still be at least a decade away, medical researchers and scientists are well on their way to making this a reality.
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