Freaky Friday: Are 3D printers changing the medical world?

Technology is always evolving and upgrading. But is a 3D printer really going to change the medical world? It would seem so.

Researchers from the University of Toronto, Canada, have created a handheld printer. What’s so special about that? Well, this 3D printer can print skin tissue. This would have been Buffalo Bill’s dream piece of tech.

This portable 3D printer deposits even layers of skin to cover and repair wounds. This machine is most likely the first of its kind which can form and deposit skin within two minutes. Imagine the endless possibilities, from burn victims to skin grafts.

Will 3D printers be changing the medical world? (Photo credit: University of Toronto)


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When a person sustains extensive skin wounds, the epidermis, the dermis and hypodermis can all be damaged. Normally, the treatment for these kinds of injuries is skin grafting. This is where healthy donor skin can be grafted onto the surface epidermis and part of the underlying dermis.

However, doctors need healthy donor tissue to cover all three layers. Something which is not always available.

This is where the handheld 3D printer comes in so handy. Not only does it give access to instant skin, but the chances of healing is better.

But aren’t tissue-engineered skin substitutions already in use?

Yes, there are other devices. However, most 3D bioprinters are bulky apparatus which work at extremely slow speeds, are costly and aren’t always compatible with the clinical application.

The new device weighs less than a kilogram and resembles a white-out tape dispenser. It doesn’t even require much in the way of operator training.

What does the machine use to print?

The 3D printer uses a bio-ink gel which consists of skin cells, collagen and fibrin, a protein which helps heal wounds.

While this printer holds extensive promise, more research is underway to ensure it is safe for humans.

With technology promising to repair damaged skin within minutes, imagine what science holds in store for us in the future.

Until next week, have yourself a Freaky Friday!!

Also read: Freaky Friday: Scientists create human-pig embryos

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