I have to admit I wasn’t big enthusiast of 3D printers. Have seen them couple of times on presentations and wasn’t impressed much. ID badge warded for make everything at home have been way premature from my perspective.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m really excited to see a blow whistle made on your eyes. I think this is very beneficial and very fulfilling experience in primary school science class but little use at home. The printer material is limited to a few forms of plastic which makes the list of useful things it could make pretty narrow. Without ability to make metal parts, treating it, not to mention forging or any form of solder or welding you’d be stuck with whatever you could make of plastic. Now look around and check for things made exclusively of PVC that you consider useful.
Fortunately I’ve recently read some great news of a printer use in reproducing human tissue. Bioprinting has been in research phase for over a decade when scientists figured that inkjet printer droplet is about the same size as human cell. The operation I’ve read about was to implant a small piece of respiratory tract tissue which happened to save life of a newborn.
Great advantage of the human organs manufacturing over some of industrial products is that they don’t need high temperature or extensive mechanical manipulation involving processes. It’s all about precision, timing and sterile environment. Naturally we’re discussing the 3D print process here not the research on how to grow human organs outside of the body. Research part has very long way to go before we could say to our doctors let’s just replace that kidney instead of keep fixing it.
Not like no progress has been made already, certain blood circulation vessels seem to be close to ready for prime time. Power of 3D printing in medical applications doesn’t end in organ reproduction. A lot of effort goes into research for replacing certain body part with artificial substitutions. Bones and joints segment promises a lot of development, especially since artificial replacement are not new here it’s just about making them quickly, on demand and with custom forms so they fit patient needs best.
One of the biggest expectations in bioprinting comes from neurology field. This field hurts both from lack of knowledge as well as lack of technology to repair broken nerve. Great precision, ability to work with live as well as artificial components gives hope to all of these in need for neurology help beyond current capacities.
Naturally cosmetic medicine would benefit the most here, in terms of demand and revenue anyway. Nothing wrong with that, less invasive way than scalpel and more money for technology vendors with hope that some portion would go into research and development.
Author is a founder of QuickIDcard.com the online ID badges maker.