3D printing hit the headlines with the news that you could print a 3D gun, but what about the newly emerging field of 3D printing for human body parts.
Human ears have been printed using a 3D printer by scientists at Cornell University.
Organovo is working on bioprinting liver tissue. The future of this technology is that when a patient needs a replacement liver, Organovo’s scientists will take a biopsy of the diseased liver and will be able to print a new one.
However this technology is very expensive and costs more than people are willing to pay for this kind of service. Because of the high development costs, governments and pharmaceutical companies are funding the research and development which is need for this kind of project.
Te Vido BioDevices in Texas are planning to bioprint breast tissue implants. At the moment they are testing their tissue on mice and it will take about 7 years before it is tested on humans. However this technology is expected to cost at least $40 million per implant.
According to Antony Vicari, who worked on a report on the market for 3D printing it is expected to grow to $8.4 billion by 2025. The medical industry will have less than a quarter share of the market and it will mostly be because of 3D printed medical devices and orthopedic parts.
Recently bioprinting has been combined with printing electronics. A group of researchers at Princeton have made a device that uses a coiled antenna printed with silver nano-particles to receive a wide range of frequencies. Working with scientists from John Hopkins, they built an electronic ear using calf cells to form ear cartilage. They were able to pick up radio-waves in stereo using left and right side ears.