We’ve seen a lot of notable applications of 3D printing technology, but this one has to be the most cutting edge of them all. Some companies have made considerable progress in special 3D printers and ink. Instead of printing replicas, food or gadgets, they print living tissue.
The screenshot above is from a presentation made by Andras Forgacs at a conference held by The Economist. Forgacs is the co-founder of Organovo, one of the companies who are looking into 3D printing live tissue, which is now being called bioprinting. Forgacs implies that Organovo is interested in using bioprinting to help pharmaceutical companies reduce costs in developing drugs. Listen to Forgacs explain bioprinting in a nutshell in the video below, courtesy of Fora.tv:
As noted by the Wall Street Journal, researchers and “bioengineers” in various academic institutions have also been experimenting with bioprinting. Some have been able to print blood vessels, while others are making a portable printer designed to print tissue directly to a wound to make it heal faster.
All of these experts hope that someday they will get to the next level and print entire organs. Perhaps by then we can “map” the organs of other people, then copy and print those templates. Want to be smarter? Download a template of Stephen Hawking’s brain, print it then have it transplanted on your noggin. Want to be stronger? Download and print Lebron James’ physique. Want to be braver? Download and print the heart of a champ. Or not.