Friday, April 12, 2013

Printing organs--but not how you think

I am so in "like" with 3D printing. It fascinates me. Somewhere on here, I said why not design a printer where you can load blood etc and print off spare parts for humans?

I don't think they can do that quite yet (although I later learned others had thought of it), but they are printing replicas of say, someone's heart, so surgeons can practice repairing it.

Wish they had done that with my right retina (now non-functioning).

Juro Osawa wrote about 3D printing of organs in the WSJ Apr 9, 2013. The printers lay down exact copies of organs one thin layer at a time.

Stratsys and 3D Systems (two big players) have printers that use medical images such as CT scans to construct personalized models. Some are made with polyvinyl alcohol instead of hard resin--making them slimy and soft to manipulate with the scalpel. More realistic.

From start to finish, the process can take days. The printers that do this are way over $250,000.

Some of this is being used clinically--such as models that fit inside a person's mouth showing the surgeon where to cut to revamp a face.

Modern miracles that run on electricity.