How Can a 3D Printer print Hearts, Arteries, and more?

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by Tajzhane Guzman

In Pittsburg, Virginia, scientists and researchers have developed a way to print models of various anatomical structures including hearts, brains, arteries, and bones.

“Using 3D printers to create soft implants, a process called bioprinting, could provide alternatives to traditional transplants for repairing or replacing damaged organs,” says one researcher from livescience magazine.

“The device works by depositing layers of material, just as ordinary printers lay down ink, except 3D printers can also lay down flat layers on top of each other to build 3D objects,” said Charles Q. Choi from livescience magazine.

“Researchers have used 3D printers to create rigid medical devices customized for individual patients; those devices include hearing aids, dental implants and prosthetic hands,” said the scientists.

“Using medical imaging data, the researchers used their new technique, called FRESH, or ‘Freeform Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels,” to print simplified, proof-of-concept anatomical structures,” said livescience.

“Scientists say that the biggest technical challenge is not making the organ, but replicating its intricate internal network of blood vessels, which nourishes it and provides it with oxygen,” said Bonnie Berkowitz for the Washington Post.

“Bioprinting technology is years and possibly decades away from making very complex organs, but scientists have already printed skin and vertebral disks and put them into living bodies,” said Berkowitz.

So, this invention could eventually save hundreds of lives, maybe thousands. But the second challenge is the lack of money.

Just for one organ, it could take literally ten years just to finish it. The fact that you would have to have lots of commitment of people, resources and billions of dollars is difficult.

For that reason, it is hard to make organs and other important things without resources and money. You should be expecting this to be done somewhere between 5-10 years, where it can save your family’s life.

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