I've said it once and I'll say it again - 3D printers are amazing. The technological wonder that allows us to create 3D objects simply by scanning them into a computer has the potential to revolutionize everything. There's even been talks of how to apply 3D printing to create sustainable food for countries with low food reserves. The most amazing use of 3D printing, however, comes in the form of printing human organs for transplants.
While 3D printing seems like its out of sci-fi, the technology has actually been around since 1984 when Charles Hull created the first 3D printer. The cost of the technology, however, has kept it out of the public eye for most of the last 20 years. It was only until recently that universities and even regular Joe-types began to be able to afford the tech.
Let's jump to today when 3D printing is now taking off and scientists are using it to make groundbreaking discoveries in the world of science and medicine. This wonderful infographic from the fine folks at Printerinks shows how far 3D printing has come from its humble origins and how scientists are using the tech to grow organs.
As we learned back when researchers were creating working blood vessels with a 3D printer, the process is as simple as it is complex. It starts with the growth of cells. The 3D printer comes into play when they are used to create a layered structure that's then layered with cells that attach to the structure and turn it into the organ.
With our current technology, it's estimated that it would take 10 days to print a liver. As technology improves, it's estimated that scientists could print a liver in three hours. That's great news for the thousands of people who are waiting for a live transplant to save their life.
The creation of organs through 3D printing has another, less talked about function, as well. If we could test drugs on 3D printed human livers, it would save millions of dollars and years of time that it takes to develop and test new drugs on animals before it's even considered for human testing.
As you can see, 3D printing is seriously the most important invention of the 20th century. The only problem is that the technology doesn't get enough credit for the potential it has. As long as I live, I hope to sing the praises of 3D printing from the rooftops until I need new lungs created through 3D printing to replace my old ones.
Created by Printerinks