When someone brings up the topic of 3D printing, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds is creating a little trinket or figurine. Well, now it looks like a group of researchers from the University of Buffalo have come up with a new way to use 3D printers to print out human organs much quicker than before.
The technique centers on a 3D printing method called stereolithography and jelly-like materials known as hydrogels, which are used to create things like, diapers, contact lenses and scaffolds in tissue engineering.
The latter application is particularly useful in 3D printing, and it’s something the research team spent a major part of its effort optimizing to achieve their incredibly fast and accurate 3D printing technique.
According to the study’s co-lead author Ruogang Zhao, “The technology we’ve developed is 10-50 times faster than the industry standard, and it works with large sample sizes that have been very difficult to achieve previously,”
While little detail was provided on the actual process of 3D organs, researchers did say the method is particularly suitable for printing cells with embedded blood vessel networks, a nascent technology expected to be a central part of the production of 3D-printed human tissue and organs.
The researchers behind the study did however release a short video of their technique being used to create a 3D printed human hand. The time-lapse video is just seven seconds long. The actual time it took to print the hand was a bit longer, at around 19 minutes. However, keep in mind that it would take around six hours to create the same hand using conventional 3D printing methods.
Take a look at the video below.
Seeing as this technique is still in its infancy stage, don’t expect to 3D your own hand in a matter of minutes anytime soon, Although researchers have already filed a provisional patent of the technology, and they formed a startup company, Float3D, to commercialize the technology.
Picture: University of Buffalo