Right now – this very minute – there are machines literally manufacturing new hearts, lungs, and other critical organs and body parts from raw biological material, and it’s changing the world of medicine forever.
Now, you’re not reading science fiction. And no, SkyNet is not upon us.
Through the amazing technology of 3D printing – and with the help of some big time medical breakthroughs – it’s now possible to assemble body parts and organs from raw material for implantation (and a whole host of other uses) on factory floors just like your new car came off of.
Wild, wild stuff, right?
Welcome to the future!
What is biomedical 3D printing, anyway?
Devices no bigger than a laser printer are being used in labs right now (this very instant) to combine spoonfuls of squishy, gooey substances – raw biological material – into actual body parts that are saving lives, and it’s nothing short of a modern miracle.
Robotic arms move this way and that, lasers cut, shave, and combine different components, and a piece of software makes sure that the whole project comes together just as the specs designed it to. The process is not at all different from the mass manufacturing process used to make cars, furniture, or any of the other hard goods we use every single moment of every single day.
Yes, you’re reading that right. There’s a laboratory somewhere that is using the same kind of manufacturing system responsible for building the screen you’re seeing this on to produce real, living replacement tissue for human beings.
Biomedical 3D printing is in its infancy, but the real world applications are astounding
The very first time that anyone seriously printed using biomedical materials was in 2000, when an engineer swapped out a standard inkjet cartridge in a Brother printer for one filled with collagen – and then printed out his initials in living tissue!
Flash forward just slightly more than 15 years later into the future and we’re already seeing large scale adaptation of this technology (no longer using modified inkjet printers, either) to produce some big breakthroughs in modern medicine.
Imagine this, for a moment:
Instead of having to wonder about the effectiveness of major new pharmaceutical products on the human body before wide scale release, human tissue can be printed up and tested with no negative impact on a human host.
Instead of wondering EXACTLY how the different body systems work together with one another in the body – without ever being able to really open up a living person to study how everything reacts naturally – 3D printed dummies can act as surrogates for this research, making big breakthroughs in science possible.
Instead of having millions and millions of people die every single year because of organ failure, disease, and a host of other issues, 3D printed organs can be “made to order” for 100% successful integration, improving the quality of life for people all over the world while giving them a chance to survive they never would have had otherwise.
All of this is possible thanks to biomedical 3D printing.
And it’s just the tip of the iceberg.