Press-and-print body parts
Last year, Cornell University scientists used a 3-D printer to produce an artificial ear that, according to Randy Reiland’s January 2014 report in Smithsonian.com, “looks and works like the real thing.” Reiland notes that researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have bioprinted blood vessels; their counterparts at Wake Forest University developed a method for printing skin cells directly onto wounds. And a company called Organovo has come up with a 3-D printed liver.
Next up? According to Bernard Meyerson, writing for weforum.com, a 4-D printer is being developed capable of creating products that can alter themselves in response to environmental change, such as heat and humidity. That could be useful for things like clothes and footwear, Meyerson points out, and also for “health care products, such as implants designed to change in the human body.”
Source: Smithsonian.com, Jan. 6, 2014; World Economic Forum, weforum.org, March 4, 2015