Three dimensional (3D) printing, or additive manufacturing, is a process of making solid, three-dimensional objects from a digital file. Using metals, plastics, acrylic, sandstone, etc., an object is created by laying down successive micrometer layers of materials until the object is complete.
Hailed by some as the advent of the third industrial revolution, 3D printers may eventually be standard household equipment to manufacture your own shoes, dresses, glasses frames, doorknobs, functional clocks—the list is seemingly endless.
But SKIN?! Apparently so. Scientists at Wake Forest University’s Military Research Center have developed a 3D method to “print” new skin cells onto a patient’s burn wounds. The wound is laser scanned and translated into a patient-specific design to lay down one layer of living cells at a time until the entire wound is precisely covered. Experimental trials with mice show that 3D printed skin cells heal, on average, two weeks faster than previous skin grafting techniques.
Are 3D printed organs and vascular systems next? Bionics anyone?
Sources: AMAC Advantage Magazine. Vol. 12, No. 3. Summer 2018. Page 8.
Wikipedia, “3D Printing”