Bio printingAccording to BBC News Science and Environment department, the latest advancement in 3D printing is quite literally printed music to medical ears. The latest progress in 3D printers means that doctors may soon be able to repair damaged skin, cartilage and bones using these advanced printing methods.

At their latest conference, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington DC unveiled plans for what they call “bio printing” using advanced biological “inks” and a specially adapted 3D printer. It works along the same methods that scientists currently use to create three-dimensional solid objects. The shape they wish to manufacture is made up horizontally line by line to create a two-dimensional image, and then it is built up vertically layer by layer to create a three-dimensional shape, until the correct width and depth is achieved.

James Yoo, a Professor at the Institute of Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University, said that the inspiration for creating this technology were the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The statistical evidence was that around 30% of all injuries in these wars directly related to burns and scar tissue of soldier’s skin. Added to this, a high proportion of injuries at Accident and Emergency departments are also related to burns victims. Because of this level of skin injuries, Professor Yoo felt that a more time efficient and cost effective method had to be created to deal with this increasingly problematic area.

Rather than designing a large scale scanner which patients will visit to have their skin printed out, they are trying to develop a portable scanner which has the capability of being taken to the burn victim. It will be similar to an all in one printer, with scanning, copying and printing capability, such as the Brother DCP-9010CN MFC Colour Laser Printer However, this one won’t be used for printing your all important photographs and documents using traditional toner cartridges like the Brother TN-230 Black toner cartridge. Instead, the scanner will determine the dimensions and depth of each individual wound.

Professor Yoo explained further how this works, saying “That scan gets converted into 3D digital images; that determines how many layers of cells then need to be deposited to restore the normal configuration of the injured tissue.”

To demonstrate the abilities of this super-advanced printer, Dr. Hod Lipson, director of the Computational Synthesis Laboratory at Cornell University, printed out an ear for astonished attendees with his 3D printer. Rather than using the bio inks which will fuel the printer in the future, he created the ear using a silicone gel based ink substitute.

Professor Yoo believes that this printing technology will be far superior to the current manual method that doctors use. However, to contain expectations, he pointed out that this printing technology is only very early in its developmental stages, and many obstacles needed to be overcome before it will be in widespread use. For example, a great deal of research will need to be done to determine how the printed ear or cartilage will be attached to the patient. However, Dr. Lipson is determined that this bio printing will be in widespread use within the next 20 years.

So with this advanced printing technology, the future may well bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “second hand shops.” And when we complain about nagging parents or spouses “chewing our ears off”, we’ll simply be able to print new ones out if they literally go too far.

You can rest assured that Cartridge Monkey will always provide the very latest in printing technology to all our customers as and when it becomes available.

Source: BBC News

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