3-D printed organs: Fantasy or fantastic?

So with all the different aspects of 3-D printing, what can you do with it? Well, you can always print some organs.

An image of a 3-D printed jawbone

There have been great strides into the 3-D printing of organs, but there are difficulties. How do you keep the cells alive while printing? How do you keep the structure from collapsing? How do you even get the cells to behave the way that you want them to?

bionic ear
A printed bionic ear

At Bighamton University, the researchers are working on the process of 3-D printing organs and tissues. There are difficulties in this. One bioengineer explains the challenges with 3-D printing organs. With all of the different parts of the tissues and organs, you have to be able to understand how each of those will be interacting with one another, as well as when it needs to stand on its own.

You might be wondering, what is the point of trying to print organs if they can not do anything? Well, there is a solution. Other researchers at the University of Florida have come up with the solution to print within a gel. So it becomes a scaffolding of sorts to hold the cells in such a way as to not be under the same effect of gravity. So it won’t buckle under the weight of itself. The trick is to have the gel be removable and at the same time, not change or disturb the print. (If you want, there is a more technical article of the same gel.)

With each of these different ideas, there will come a time where people will not have to wait months or years for transplants. They will just have to wait as their organ is printed up and they have time for the surgery. So what do you think about it? I’m all ears.


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