We may not have flying cars yet, but 3D printed organs? That sci-fi fantasy just got one step closer to reality thanks to a rapid 3D printing method developed by engineers at the University of Buffalo.
Their work was recently included in a study published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials, which you can read here, and it’s also demonstrated in the downright haunting gif above. This accelerated footage shows a 3D printer fully constructing an artificial hand in just 19 minutes, a task that would take six hours using conventional 3D printing methods, the team said.
“The technology we have developed is 10 to 50 times faster than the industry standard and works with large samples that were previously very difficult to achieve,” said study co-lead author Ruogang Zhao, associate professor of biomedicine. . engineering at the university, in Press release Friday.
The process is based on stereolithography, a long-standing 3D printing method that uses lasers to harden liquid resin and gelatinous substances called hydrogels, which can absorb large amounts of water without dissolving. Hydrogels are commonly used in commercial products like contact lenses, glue, and disposable diapers, although scientists have also experimented with them in biomedical deals.
According to the researchers, this method is particularly well suited to correctly printing all the minute details in cells with embedded blood vessel networks, something that is expected to play a pivotal role in the eventual production of 3D-printed human tissues and organs.
“Our method allows the rapid printing of centimeter-sized hydrogel models. It significantly reduces part deformation and cell injury caused by prolonged exposure to environmental stresses commonly seen in conventional 3D printing methods, ”said the other co-lead author of the study, Chi Zhou, associate professor of industrial engineering and systems at the university. .
The team’s research was funded by the National Institute for Bioengineering and Biomedical Imaging and the National Institutes of Health, as well as the UB Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Jacobs Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, according to the press release. .
The idea of 3D printed organs still sounds like futuristic verbiage to me, but I guess if you can already eat 3D printed meat in a 3D printed house where do you keep 3D printed gun, then the sky is the limit.